Gio Gonzalez Rumors

Injury Notes: Abreu, Gonzalez, Venters, Fielder, Yanks

Here’s the latest on the injury front:

  • The White Sox have placed Jose Abreu on the 15-day disabled list with posterior tibial tendinitis in his left ankle, reports MLB.com’s Scott Merkin. Abreu returned to Chicago today for an examination and was placed in a boot to immobilize the ankle and help facilitate the recovery process. He also will undergo further tests, such as another MRI, and further treatment for at least another day. The rookie sensation is paying early dividends on his six-year, $68MM contract, batting .260/.312/.595 with a MLB-leading 15 home runs and 42 RBIs in 189 plate appearances.
  • The Nationals placed Gio Gonzalez on the 15-day disabled list with shoulder inflammation, but the left-hander’s enhanced MRI exam revealed no further damage and confirmed he will only require rest, reports Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post.
  • The BravesJonny Venters threw batting practice Wednesday and the session was cut short after he reported soreness in his left elbow, writes the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s David O’Brien. “It was just a little sore, so they shut him down and didn’t continue,” said manager Fredi Gonzalez. “They didn’t seem concerned, they made it sound like it was part of the process – first time he’s faced hitters and that kind of stuff.” Venters is just over a year removed from his second Tommy John surgery. 
  • The Rangers‘ injury woes continue with Prince Fielder undergoing a nerve-root injection for a herniated disc in his neck, reports Jay Jaffe of SI.com. Fielder, slashing only .247/.360/.360 with three home runs in 178 plate appearances, says his neck has bothered him since last season, but has worsened lately. Jaffe notes Fielder waited until last month to inform the Rangers of his injury, which has caused pain and stiffness in his neck and weakness in his left arm.
  • Yankees right-hander Michael Pineda is still on track for an early-June return after a successful bullpen session Friday, according to ESPNNewYork.com’s Wallace Matthews (h/t: Mike Axisa of River Ave. Blues).
  • Yankees reliever Shawn Kelley could rejoin the team next Sunday, tweets Meredith Marakovits of the YES Network (h/t: Axisa). Kelley, nursing a back injury, will play catch Monday and Tuesday, throw a bullpen Wednesday, and make a minor league rehab appearance Friday.

NL Notes: D’Backs, Rockies, Cashner, Gonzalez, Davis

The news of the day was out of Arizona, where the Diamondbacks made a bold move to add Hall of Fame manager Tony LaRussa atop the club’s baseball operations department. Many observers hailed the move, with Jon Morosi of FOX Sports writing that the experienced and respected LaRussa could effect a “cultural overhaul” akin to that delivered to the Orioles by Buck Showalter. Of course, LaRussa’s role will be much broader than that of Showalter, and he’ll face quite a different challenge from the one that brought him to Cooperstown.

Here’s more from the D’Backs and the rest of the National League:

  • The immediate reaction to LaRussa’s hiring was that embattled Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers and/or manager Kirk Gibson could be on their way out. After reporting that a further shake-up would likely not occur in the immediate future, Bob Nightengale of USA Today provided some details on the previously unknown terms of the extensions given to both of those team leaders before the start of what has turned into a trying season (via Twitter). Towers’s deal takes him through 2016, while Gibson’s contract is believed to run through 2015, says Nightengale. Of course, that does not mean that the pair is ensured to last until those pacts expire.
  • If the Rockies decide to shop for pitching, the club will have plenty of teams banging on the door for a chance to add one of their top two prospect arms (Jon Gray and Eddie Butler), reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (video link). But Rosenthal says that the team is more likely to bring one or both of those power righties up, noting that the team seems to have solid rotation depth.
  • Padres staff ace Andrew Cashner was placed on the 15-day DL today after experiencing discomfort and inflammation in his right elbow. As Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports, the 27-year-old says he is “not worried about my ligament at all.” Nevertheless, he will undergo a precautionary MRI on Monday. After a solid 175-inning, 3.09 ERA campaign last year, Cashner has elevated his game this year with a 2.35 ERA through 57 1/3 frames (7.4 K/9 against 2.7 BB/9). He is earning a $2.4MM salary for 2014, his first arb-eligible campaign, and should be in line for a big raise if he can stay on the mound and keep producing at those levels.
  • Meanwhile, Nationals southpaw Gio Gonzalez suffered through a second-straight rough outing today, and manager Matt Williams said after the game that the club has been monitoring complaints of shoulder stiffness. As Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post reports, Gonzalez will undergo precautionary testing tomorrow, including an MRI. When asked if he was experiencing any health issues, Gonzalez gave a response that seems open to interpretation. “Realistically, arm was dropping a lot,” he said. “I guess we’ll see.”
  • First baseman Ike Davis has regained his form at the plate since being traded to the Pirates, Jorge Arangure writes for the New York Times. Davis has compiled a .286/.383/.414 line through his first 81 plate appearances in Pittsburgh. In part, it bears noting, Davis has benefited from platoon usage: on the year, he has yet to record a hit in 15 plate appearances against same-handed pitchers, while sporting a nifty .902 OPS against righties. After several up-and-down years with the Mets, Davis said he is keeping his focus on the present and does not bear any ill-will to his former club.

Nationals Notes: Desmond, Balfour, Gonzalez

Ian Desmond reportedly turned down a seven-year contract offer from the Nationals that was worth at least $85.5MM and possibly topped the $90MM threshold, Thomas Boswell of the Washington Post reported during a reader chat.  Rumors about the Nats extending Desmond have swirled for over a year, and while the two sides agreed to a two-year, $17.5MM extension in January that covered both of his remaining arbitration years, Desmond is still eligible for free agency following the 2015 season.  While Desmond didn't specifically comment on Boswell's report, the shortstop told MLB.com's Bill Ladson that "the Nationals and I had been in conversation prior to the two-year deal, but things didn't work out. I don't know how this got out. It's not something that came from my side. We don't operate like that." 

Here's some more from Desmond and some other items from Washington…

  • Though a long-term deal hasn't been reached, Desmond "feel[s] real strongly about my future with the Nationals. I would like to play here for the rest of my career."
  • Desmond admitted he was "a little bit hesitant" to sign his two-year extension, "but in turn, I have a wife and kids. Guaranteed money is guaranteed money. I think it was a good, fair deal for both sides. I took a deal that benefited my family and it didn't affect future infielders in the arbitration process. To have the security was something I couldn't pass up."
  • Also from Boswell's chat, he notes that the Nationals offered Grant Balfour a two-year, $12MM deal but the reliever took a similar deal from the Rays instead because Washington's offer contained mostly deferred money.  Boswell admits this could be "one of those many after-the-fact retellings of history," but believes the rumor to be true.  The Nats were known to be interested in Balfour and were trying to free up 2014 payroll space to sign him and make further moves, to the point that Desmond and Jordan Zimmermann's two-year extensions were both backloaded to 2015.
  • Gio Gonzalez's contract has become a major bargain for the Nationals, Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post writes.  Gonzalez has three years and a guaranteed $31.5MM remaining on his original five-year pact, and the Nationals have $12MM club options on the southpaw for both 2017 and 2018.


MLB Preparing To Suspend At Least 20 Players In Biogenesis Scandal

9:46pm: Besides Braun and Rodriguez, "other major, major names" are also involved in the Biogenesis case, a source tells Bob Klapsich of the Bergen Record (Twitter link).

6:56pm: Major League Baseball is planning to suspend at least 20 players connected to Biogenesis, the Miami clinic under investigation for supplying performance-enhancing drugs, reports T.J. Quinn, Pedro Gomez and Mike Fish of ESPN's Outside The Lines.  Biogenesis founder Tony Bosch has agreed to cooperate with the investigation and begin naming players, with suspensions possibly following within two weeks.

The list of possible suspensions includes Alex Rodriguez, Ryan Braun, Melky Cabrera, Nelson Cruz, Bartolo Colon, Yasmani Grandal, Francisco Cervelli, Jesus Montero, Jhonny Peralta, Cesar Puello, Fernando Martinez, Everth Cabrera, Fautino de los Santos and Jordan Norberto, plus others who are named in documents that the ESPN team haven't had access to, or are known under code names.

MLB officials have also investigated a possible connection between Biogenesis and Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano, as the spokeswoman for Cano's foundation (Sonia Cruz) has had her name appear in some clinic documents.  Nationals southpaw Gio Gonzalez isn't expected to face suspension for his connection to Biogenesis since the products he obtained from the clinic weren't banned.

The league could look for a 100-game suspension (the penalty for second-time PED offenders) for Rodriguez, Braun and other first-time offenders since both the connection to Biogenesis and previous denials to MLB officials would serve as seperate offenses.  It is unknown how MLB would deal with players like Cabrera or Colon who already have PED suspensions on their record, though these players probably wouldn't face a lifetime ban as three-time offenders — their prior suspensions would likely count as their so-called "first strike," with this next violation putting them in line for 100-game suspensions as well.

Quinn/Gomez/Fish report that, as expected, the accused players will challenge any possible suspensions and it could be difficult for the league to obtain corroborating evidence in the appeals process beyond Bosch's testimony.


Beltway Notes: Wieters, Jurrjens, Gonzalez, Rizzo

One Scott Boras client created a tense moment for another today as Prince Fielder lined a ball off the left hand of Stephen Strasburg during a Spring Training game.  Strasburg seemed fine after the knock and continuing pitching, finishing the outing with three runs allowed and five strikeouts over six innings of work.

Here's the latest from around the Beltway from both the Nationals' and Orioles' camps…

  • Matt Wieters told Steve Melewski of MASNsports.com that he would be open to discusing a multiyear extension with the Orioles but didn't confirm whether any talks had taken place.  "At this point, I am getting ready for the year and if something were to ever develop, I'd pretty much tell Scott [agent Scott Boras] to present the information," Wieters said.  O's executive VP Dan Duquette said in January that the team would likely approach Wieters about a long-term deal at some point during the offseason, while the catcher said he just wants to focus on playing once Opening Day hits.  Wieters has two more arbitration eligible years left and is eligible for free agency after the 2015 season.
  • Jair Jurrjens can't opt out of his Orioles contract until June 15, Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reports (via Twitter).  The O's signed the veteran righty to a minor league deal last month.
  • The Nationals are internally confident that Gio Gonzalez won't be suspended for his connection to the controversial Biogenesis clinic in Miami, James Wagner of the Washington Post reports.  MLB is continuing to investigate Gonzalez and other players named in the clinic's records, though last month it was reported that no banned substances were among Gonzalez's alleged purchases from Biogenesis.
  • Nationals center field prospect Eury Perez could become trade bait after this season, MLB.com's Bill Ladson opines as part of a reader mailbag.  Perez has become expendable with Denard Span in center and other prospects like Brian Goodwin and Michael Taylor also in the mix.
  • Nats GM Mike Rizzo hinted to reporters (including Ladson) that Chris Young may opt out of his contract on or before March 24 since there doesn't seem to be room for the right-hander on the Nationals' Major League roster.  "We are certainly not going to keep him in the minor leagues if he has a chance at a big league job," Rizzo said.  "That's only right. That's how we get these players to come with us under these conditions, because they know we are going to do right by them and treat them well."
  • "We'll know what other teams think of him," Rizzo said of utilityman Carlos Rivero, who is out of options. "He is a good, versatile player. He is a guy that could help some teams….We'll see shortly."  Rivero, 24, has a .265/.322/.386 line over 3222 career PA in the minor leagues since 2006.  Here is the full list of this year's out of options players.

Nationals Discuss Pre-Arbitration Extensions

The risk and reward that comes with signing an extension before or during a player’s first year of arbitration can be a tricky one. Players can take the guaranteed money and set themselves up for life or play out the arbitration years and try to cash in with a bigger payday down the road.  Washington’s Denard Span, Kurt Suzuki and Gio Gonzalez all signed early extensions and talked to MLBTR about their decisions.

Outfielder Denard Span (Signed a five-year, $16.25MM deal with Minnesota in March 2010):

“It was after my first full season in the big leagues, after the '09 season. It took me a little bit of time to get to the Major Leagues, I didn’t get there at 20 or 21 years old, so at the time the Twins came to me about the extension, it just made sense for me and my family. We realized what we possibly were leaving on the table if I had good years but we also thought about the risk of if I got hurt or anything like that. It just made sense for my situation.

“My agent set out numbers and I remember after my best year in '09, he said if you just do this for the next two, three years and don’t take this contract, this is what you would get in arbitration so we compared the numbers and it was a little bit of a discount to take the contract at the time and he put that out there, but the decision was ultimately my decision.

“I’ve been on the DL the past few years so I’d like to think it worked out fine but there’s so many unknowns and that’s the risk you take when you're dealing with any kind of guaranteed contract, whether to take it or play your cards and wait for that big payday.

“I wouldn’t say it was an easy decision. It was something that me and my family had to pray about. It was a situation where we felt like if I were to get hurt and never play again, at least all the hard work that I’ve put forth in this game, I’d at least have something to walk away from. That was one of the determining factors. I realized that when this contract is up, I wouldn’t be naturally young but I wouldn’t be old. I’m going to be 31, lord willing when I’m a free agent, so what I didn’t get in the beginning, I believe that I’m going to get at the end.”

Catcher Kurt Suzuki (Signed a four-year, 16.25MM deal with Oakland in July 2010):

“It’s a tough decision obviously. At the time you work so had to get to a point to where you're starting to get paid I guess and I think I was signed during my last season before arbitration, so it was the year leading up to arbitration, and obviously I knew I was going to arbitration next year but the multi-year deal, to have the security for your family, it was hard to look that much money in the mirror and say I don’t want it, I’m going to wait. You get security for your family. It’s a pretty good chunk of change. It was hard to turn down. Some guys take that route and some guys don’t. I thought it was a deal where I felt it was enough security for my family and I. I was married at the time.

“Obviously if you sign a long term deal before arbitration years, you’re going to have to take a discount because you’re obviously not in line to make the money yet. You’re kind of predicting the future so you have to take a little bit of a discount but at the same time, how much of a discount you want to take, you have to ask yourself and what are you happy with. After deciding with my wife, we felt OK with taking the deal and having that security.

“You break it down and you have comparables. My case was a little different because they said I didn’t have many comparables. I don’t know, they just said there wasn’t many people to compare me with that signed multi-year deals so like Russell Martin was a comparable but he didn’t sign a multi-year deal so it was kind of hard to gauge off somebody for a deal.

“There’s a risk. It was an amount that my wife and I felt comfortable with and it was worth taking. Later on I might have been looking to make more, obviously if I went year to year, but at the same time, we felt that money was sufficient enough to take the deal. I’m happy with how it worked out. Obviously there’s a chance you could have made more money but at the same time, with how things [worked] out I think it was a good deal.

“Denard and I talk about it all the time. He comes from Minnesota who has the similar philosophies as Oakland to try and lock players up long term before their arbitration years and we talked about giving up money but we also talked about how its hard to turn that much money down because you’re making a really good amount of money. The Major League minimum is a really good amount, but when you’re talking millions of dollars, to turn that down is tough to do. When you get offered that much money in your face, what are you going to do?”

Pitcher Gio Gonzalez (Signed a five-year, $42MM deal with Washington in January 2012, a record at the time for a first-year arbitration eligible pitcher. He was traded from Oakland just a month earlier): 

“I looked at as you know what? The organization gave me a chance to play and Mike Rizzo (Nationals GM) believed in me from the beginning and he gave me something that I felt was reasonable and gave me an opportunity and I said why not? The only way to keep getting up there and is keep improving and try to make the best of it.

“You also look at the team and the guys that were coming up, you had Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann, Ryan Zimmerman, Jayson Werth, Bryce Harper, you had all these guys and the pieces they were putting together, I felt like that rotation was going to get better and better and I was like why not be a part of it?

“I think it was just me wanting to play baseball and I think it helped secure my family and me and it almost was to the point where it was like, you can roll the dice and see what happens, but you can never promise tomorrow. I was more excited to play here than anything. It was a new team, new uniform, I think the thing that really drove me to want to play here more was the fact that ‘Rizz’ believed in me from the beginning. He didn’t question anything and he gave me a opportunity and I felt like he gave me a great price for what was reasonable. He didn’t skyrocket me but he got me right where I needed to be to go out there and prove my performance.

“I liked it. Like I said, nothing is promised tomorrow. I think what ‘Rizz’ did was more than reasonable. He thought it was fair, I thought it was fair. We worked both sides out with no complaints. I was ready to grab a baseball and start pitching. Trust me, I was thinking way beyond the money. I was thinking more like World Series. Let’s go. Great rotation, great offense and defense. I was more than happy to play for them.”


NL East Notes: Gio, Owings, Stanton, Young

Nationals left-hander Gio Gonzalez was one of several players whose names were found in the records of Biogenesis, a Miami clinic linked to PEDs, as revealed last month by the Miami New Times.  According to a new report from ESPN's Mike Fish and T.J. Quinn, however, none of the substances that Gonzalez allegedly purchased are banned by Major League Baseball.  Gonzalez has denied any personal involvement with Biogenesis, though his father is a client of the clinic. 

Here are some more items from around the NL East…


Gio, Cruz, Rodriguez, Cabrera Linked To PED Clinic

Gio Gonzalez and Nelson Cruz are among the MLB stars who have been linked to a supplier of performance enhancing drugs in a report from Tim Elfrink of the Miami New Times. A Miami-based clinic sold PEDs to athletes from various sports, according to the report. The names of Cruz, Gonzalez, Alex Rodriguez, Melky Cabrera and Bartolo Colon were found in the records at Biogenesis, an anti-aging clinic located near the University of Miami.

Gonzalez's name appears five times in the notebooks of Anthony Bosch, the clinic's chief. Cruz purchased $4,000 of product, according to the report. Rodriguez's name appears throughout the clinic's files, while Cabrera's name appears 14 times and Colon’s name also comes up.

Gonzalez has considerable security after agreeing to a five-year, $42MM contract with the Nationals last offseason. He'll earn $6.25MM in 2013 and remains under contract through 2016. Cruz will earn $10.5MM this year then hit free agency following the 2013 season. Cabrera, 28, signed a two-year, $16MM contract with the Blue Jays after serving a PED-related suspension at the end of the 2012 season. Colon, who has also served a PED-related suspension, signed a one-year, $3MM deal with the Athletics this offseason.

Rodriguez could face a suspension, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports. However, don't expect the Yankees to be able to void the third baseman's contract. As Yahoo's Jeff Passan reports, the Yankees weren't able to void the deal after he admitted to using performance enhancing drugs for the first time (Twitter link). Rodriguez, who will miss much of the 2013 season recovering from a hip operation, has $114MM remaining on his contract with the Yankees.

Rodriguez and Gonzalez have both issued statements denying the allegations.


NL East Notes: Wright, Phillies, Fernandez, Gonzalez

The Phillies, winners of six in a row, are just four games out of the Wild Card race and back at the .500 mark with a 71-71 record. While a sixth consecutive division title remains out of reach, the Phillies have a remote chance at returning to the postseason. Here are the latest notes from the NL East…

  • Despite baseball's investigation into accusations that agents Seth and Sam Levinson helped procure performance-enhancing drugs for players, David Wright doesn't plan on changing agents, according to the New York Daily News.  "I have known these guys since I was 18," Wright said. "The only thing I have to go off of is the way they have represented me the last 12 years (and) the integrity that I have seen firsthand that they have for the game."  The Mets hold a $16MM club option on Wright's deal for 2013 but the club is expected to pursue a contract extension in the near future.
  • Third base is a long-term need for the Phillies and, as Bob Brookover of the Philadelphia Inquirer notes, there's also uncertainty at the position in the short-term. Kevin Frandsen has a stress fracture in his left fibula, Placido Polanco is out for the season, Michael Martinez doesn't add much offense and Chase Utley has limited experience at third.
  • The Marlins and Phillies are now heading in different directions, David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News. While Miami's early-season struggles continued, the Phillies are now "playing clean games" in the view of manager Charlie Manuel.
  • Top Marlins pitching prospect Jose Fernandez has a chance to join Miami's rotation in 2013, Joe Capozzi Palm Beach Post writes. Fernandez, a first round pick in 2011, figures to start next year in Double-A, according to Capozzi.
  • The deal that sent Gio Gonzalez to Washington for Tommy Milone and Derek Norris has proven to be a win-win trade for the Nationals and Athletics, Matthew Leach of MLB.com writes. Gonzalez is a Cy Young candidate with the Nationals and Milone and Norris are contributing to the success of the A's.

Quick Hits: Gio, Phillies, Rangers, Burnett

Brayan Pena's attempt to stretch a single into a double in the 9th inning drew a throw from the outfield and allowed Jarrod Dyson to score from third with the game-winning run in the Royals' 4-3 result over the Brewers tonight.  It was Kansas City's second unusual walkoff victory in as many nights, as they won on a bases-loaded walk from Mike Moustakas on Wednesday.  The Royals picked up the sweep against Milwaukee, winning all three games by one run.

Here's the latest from around the majors…

  • The Nationals' trade for Gio Gonzalez was the "best deal anyone made last winter," a rival scout tells Danny Knobler of CBS Sports. "They didn't get him cheap, but he can dominate, and how many starters can you say that about?"  The Nats look like the big winners of the deal thus far, given Washington's first-place position and Gonzalez's Cy Young Award-caliber numbers since joining the team.
  • David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News breaks down what the Phillies could possibly receive for some of their top assets on the trade market.
  • The Phillies, Brewers, Cubs, Astros and Red Sox are positioned to dominate the rumor mill leading up to the trade deadline, predicts Ken Davidoff of the New York Post.
  • Despite injuries to Alexi Ogando and Koji Uehara, Rangers GM Jon Daniels "still feels good" about his bullpen, reports Anthony Andro of FOX Sports Southwest (Twitter link).
  • A.J. Burnett has brought both veteran leadership and quality pitching to the Pirates, writes Tyler Kepner of the New York Times.  “It was important for our guys to see a guy that’s brought in and it’s not a trading-deadline deal where you have a guy for two months,” said manager Clint Hurdle. “We brought in a guy for two years. He can go ahead and unpack his bags. He’s going to be around, he can be involved, be engaged.”
  • Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski outlines his team's pursuit of Roy Oswalt to John Lowe of the Detroit Free Press.  Dombrowski said the Tigers were prepared to meet Oswalt's salary demands in the offseason but the veteran just didn't want to pitch in Detroit.  Oswalt's representatives contacted Dombrowski again once the season began and Oswalt was without a team, but the Tigers had already moved on with Drew Smyly in the rotation.