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Grady Sizemore Rumors
With the Phillies having retained most of their veteran players through the trading season, Ryne Sandberg is trying to figure out how to juggle playing time for his current roster, Matt Gelb of the Inquirer writes. That could get even tougher next month, as rosters expand and players like infielders Maikel Franco, Freddy Galvis and Cesar Hernandez come aboard, Gelb points out. “As of right now, it’s to give everybody looks and playing opportunity,” says Sandberg. “Let everybody participate. Now, September could be a little tricky, too, with some added numbers. It’ll be more challenging then.” GM Ruben Amaro recently said the Phillies are still trying to win as much as they can, which likely means playing veterans, even thought the Phillies are 54-68. Here’s more from Philadelphia.
- If the Phillies were to trade Cole Hamels, they would want three or four top prospects in return, and they’d want to avoid eating any of the $96MM remaining on his contract after 2014, Gelb writes. The Phillies think Hamels could provide a big head start as they attempt to change their fortunes. “He’d be tough to replace,” Says Sandberg. “We have question marks about Cliff [Lee]. Cliff, we won’t know. A.J. [Burnett], we don’t know. You have to start your staff somewhere and he’d be a good place to start.”
- The Phillies could have interest in bringing veteran outfielder Grady Sizemore back next season, MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki writes. “He’s played well enough to certainly be in consideration for 2015 and beyond,” says Amaro. “But again that’s one of those questions we’ll continue to assess.” Sizemore has hit .305/.347/.432 in 101 plate appearances with the Phillies since being released by the Red Sox in June. Marlon Byrd, Domonic Brown and Ben Revere all now figure to be part of the Phillies’ outfield in 2015. As Zolecki points out, Sizemore has out-hit both Brown and Revere, although both of them are much younger than Sizemore.
Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. offered a frank assessment of his team’s offense to reporters, including CSNPhilly.com’s Jim Salisbury: “I didn’t anticipate our guys being this poor. Because they are. They are this poor. We think that they’re better. But they haven’t shown it. So at some point we’re going to have to make some changes.”
More from Salisbury’s piece, and some other Phillies-related notes…
- Amaro listed Darin Ruf, Grady Sizemore and Freddy Galvis as possible players who could be recalled from Triple-A Lehigh Valley, and he wouldn’t rule out top prospect Maikel Franco either. When referring to Franco, he noted that Franco can also play first base, indicating perhaps that the struggling Ryan Howard could see his playing time diminish.
- Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer reminds that last season, one of the reasons Amaro gave for not wanting to shop Jonathan Papelbon was a lack of a clear replacement. That excuse is no longer valid, Gelb writes, due to the emergence of Ken Giles. The 23-year-old Giles has dominated Major League hitters in his first 11 2/3 innings, allowing one run on four hits and three walks with 17 strikeouts. Papelbon, who is pitching as well as he ever has in a Phillies uniform, could be moved if the Phils kick in $13MM to cover his potential vesting option, Gelb opines.
- ESPN’s Jim Bowden (Insider subscription required) feels that the Orioles are the most logical landing place for A.J. Burnett in a trade. Bowden writes that while Pittsburgh and Cleveland make some sense, both are long shots. He also speculates on what it would cost each team to acquire Burnett.
- Cliff Lee is now slated to return after the All-Star break because one of his rehab outings was delayed by rain, according to a report from ESPN’s Jayson Stark. Stark has previously reported that rival clubs expect the Phillies to aggressively shop Lee upon his return, though with a July 19 return target, he’d only have roughly three starts to impress.
5:26pm: Sizemore’s deal calls for him to make the MLB minimum if he is called up, tweets ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick. Of course, the Red Sox are already obligated to pay Sizemore $1.25MM.
5:02pm: Sizemore’s opt-out can be exercised if he is not in the majors by the All-Star break, tweets Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com.
4:25pm: The Phillies have signed Grady Sizemore to a minor league deal, the club announced. He will join the club’s Triple-A affiliate, and will have an opt-out opportunity in July, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (via Twitter).
After coming on strong in the spring and early portion of the season, the 31-year-old faded for the Red Sox before being released. Through 205 plate appearances with Boston — his first since 2011 — Sizemore posted a .216/.288/.324 line. Once an above-average baserunner and center fielder, Sizemore’s marks in those areas were at or below average.
Nevertheless, the former All-Star did show flashes of his former excellence and managed to stay on the field. For a Phillies club that has received average-to-awful performances from its current outfield alignment, the move provides another option moving forward.
The Cardinals are down not one but two pitchers, Michael Wacha and Jaime Garcia, after losing them both to shoulder injuries, MLB.com’s Jen Langosch writes. Wacha has what GM John Mozeliak called a “stress reaction,” and will miss several weeks. “He has been dealing with a little bit of shoulder irritation going back [four to five starts],” said Mozeliak. “Up to this point, we always thought it was manageable.” Garcia could not complete his regular bullpen session Sunday. The Cardinals are placing both pitchers on the disabled list, and they will announce corresponding moves on Monday. Here are more notes from throughout the big leagues.
- Grady Sizemore is likely to decide on a new team early this week, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe tweets. Sizemore became a free agent Friday after the Red Sox designated him for assignment. In his first big-league action since 2011, Sizemore hit .216/.288/.324 in 205 plate appearances in Boston.
- The Blue Jays and Giants have had interest in Daniel Murphy, but the most likely outcome is that the Mets keep him, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News writes. In a “mediocre” NL East division, Martino writes, the Mets do not seem to view themselves as sellers. That doesn’t mean the Mets won’t deal Murphy, of course — GM Sandy Alderson sent Marlon Byrd to the Pirates last year soon after indicating the Mets wouldn’t deal him, so his actions can be hard to predict.
- The Yankees need a starting pitcher, but they probably won’t be able to get top trade possibilities like David Price or Jeff Samardzija, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes. The Rays won’t want to trade Price to a divisional opponent. For Samardzija, the Cubs want a highly-rated young pitcher who’s close to being ready for the big leagues, and the Yankees don’t have that type of player. That means the Yankees could get someone like John Danks of the White Sox, Jason Hammel of the Cubs or Ian Kennedy of the Padres.
- As the trade deadline approaches, the Dodgers‘ greatest need is in their bullpen, but that doesn’t mean they can’t count on improvements from relievers they already have, ESPN Los Angeles’ Mark Saxon writes. Kenley Jansen, in particular, has been working on his mechanics, and he pitched very well on Saturday and Sunday. In any case, Saxon notes that the Dodgers likely won’t let guaranteed contracts for relievers they already have (presumbably, players like Brian Wilson and Chris Perez, who have struggled) prevent them from adding talent on the trade market.
- The Tigers‘ bullpen has an unexpected look recently, with the additions of minor league veterans Pat McCoy, Chad Smith and Blaine Hardy. Hardy, 27, has pitched well in four appearances so far even though he hadn’t pitched in the big leagues before last week. “You’ve got to stick with it, and that’s exactly what I tried to do. Just keep playing, hopefully get the opportunity, and here I am,” the lefty told MLive.com’s Chris Iott. The Royals drafted Hardy in the 22nd round out of college, then released him during spring training in 2013. He pitched three scoreless innings against them in his first two big-league appearances last week.
Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe has lots of hot stove information to share in his latest Sunday Notes column…
- Kendrys Morales has already become a positive clubhouse figure in his short time with the Twins and Cafardo wouldn’t be surprised to see Minnesota try to extend the slugger. It’s also possible the Twins could deal Morales before the deadline and then re-sign him as a free agent this winter.
- The Diamondbacks seem willing to listen about trade offers for any player except Paul Goldschmidt, Cafardo notes. Martin Prado could be an attractive trade chip, though possible trade candidates like Bronson Arroyo and Mark Trumbo might not have enough time before the deadline to show that they’re healthy. “We’re meeting on it. Figures we are sellers, not buyers,” D’Backs chief baseball officer Tony La Russa said.
- The Red Sox “spent significant time watching Matt Kemp last week,” though Dodgers GM Ned Colletti told Cafardo that Kemp isn’t being traded. Kemp’s recent hot streak has “reinforced” his value to Colletti given the dearth of right-handed power options around the game.
- The Nationals could make Danny Espinosa available to second base-needy teams like the Giants or Blue Jays once Bryce Harper returns from the DL. With Harper back in the outfield, Washington would use Ryan Zimmerman at third and Anthony Rendon at second, leaving Espinosa without a regular job. Given Zimmerman’s shoulder problems and questionable future as a third baseman, however, I’d tend to think that the Nats would keep Espinosa as a valuable depth piece.
- Phillies outfielders Marlon Byrd and Ben Revere appear to be available, as Cafardo adds them to the long list of notable Philadelphia players who could be trade targets before the deadline.
- Red Sox catching prospect Christian Vazquez would be the top ask for any team looking to make a major trade with Boston. “That would be across the board, even for a major hitter. He’s major league-ready right now offensively and defensively,” a scout tells Cafardo. “We also think he’ll hit for some power in the majors. Because they have Blake Swihart, who a lot of teams will ask for as well, they probably would reluctantly give up Vazquez.” This same scout, however, says that between the two young catchers, he would keep Swihart.
- While Nate Schierholtz has only hit .207/.261/.313 in 249 PA this season, the Cubs will likely still trade the outfielder. Schierholtz is only signed through the end of the season and he is owed approximately $2.78MM in remaining salary.
- The Padres “would like to conduct a fire sale” and Chris Denorfia, Chase Headley, Carlos Quentin and Seth Smith could all be available. Cafardo notes that Smith would be a good fit in the Red Sox outfield.
- Several teams are interested in Grady Sizemore, who one scout feels will perform better now that he has had time to get re-accustomed to playing. “Whoever gets him next will probably get a better player than what Boston had. He needed more time, and with that problem offensively up there they [the Red Sox] couldn’t wait,” the scout said.
- The Blue Jays, Cubs, Marlins, Phillies and Rangers have been the teams who have been most aggressively scouting the major and minor league rosters of other clubs, Cafardo reports.
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SATURDAY: Phillies assistant GM Scott Proefrock says he isn’t aware of any contact between the Phillies and Sizemore, Marc Narducci of the Inquirer writes. Proefrock notes that the Phillies were interested in Sizemore in the offseason, but says, “There is not any [contact] that I am aware of, but Ruben [Amaro] may be doing something, but I am not aware of anything.”
FRIDAY: Grady Sizemore officially cleared release waivers earlier this afternoon and became a free agent, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweeted. Now that he’s on the open market, multiple clubs are interested, making it unlikely that he would sign a minor league deal and head to Boston’s Triple-A affiliate, tweets Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports adds (also via Twitter) that the Phillies, among other teams, have reached out. Meanwhile Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN tells one of his followers that the Twins haven’t reached out to their former AL Central rival.
Sizemore’s return to the Majors was quite the story early this season. Not only did he improbably make the Red Sox’ Opening Day roster after signing a one-year, $750K contract — he clubbed a solo homer in the opener and batted .343/.395/.571 with a pair of big flies in his first 10 games. However, from that point forth, Sizemore batted just .187/.263/.267 in 167 trips to the plate. That performance led to his release, despite a glaring need for outfield help in Boston.
For the Phillies, Sizemore would be a reasonable outfield gamble despite his struggles. Philadelphia outfielders have batted a combined .245/.298/.374 this season. Combined with their poor defensive play, they’ve come in below replacement level as a group, per Fangraphs.
TODAY: Boston has given Sizemore his release, reports Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal (via Twitter).
Sizemore’s remarkable comeback story captured plenty of attention around the game. Once among baseball’s brightest talents, he had not played since 2011 due to a series of injuries. Sizemore defied the odds, breaking camp with Boston and showing flashes suggesting that he could return to a very high level of play.
The 31-year-old has not managed to maintain his early show of promise, however, and currently owns a .216/.288/.324 line (with two home runs and five stolen bases) through 205 plate appearances. UZR and DRS were both down on his work in center field, though saw him as a much more effective option in left. In the aggregate, Sizemore was worth a disappointing -0.4 fWAR. At the height of his powers, in the mid-2000s, he was putting up six or more wins above replacement on an annual basis.
Ultimately, Sizemore will earn a total of $1.25MM for his time with the Red Sox, tweets Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal. Under the incentive provisions of his deal, Sizemore could have earned up to $6MM, but he reached only his first active roster milestone and fell 20 plate appearances shy of triggering his first plate appearance bonus.
Meanwhile, this is the second time up this year for Cecchini. He seems somewhat unlikely to have a permanent home on the active roster, with the Sox having inked Stephen Drew to play short and shifted Xander Bogaerts to third.
The title of the game’s most underrated player has gone to the Rays‘ Ben Zobrist in the past, writes Dave Cameron for FOX Sports, but now belongs to Brian Dozier of the Twins, who has exhibited a similar career trajectory to the late-blooming Zobrist. Showing power that he never carried in the minors, Dozier emerged last year. He has only upped his performance in 2014, with an increasing walk rate, strong defense, and good baserunning combining with that newfound pop to make Dozier one of the game’s most valuable second basemen over the last calendar year. Even better for Minnesota, the 27-year-old will not even be eligible for arbitration until 2016. Certainly, he increasingly appears to be an extension candidate — a possibility that the team has previously explored.
Here’s more from around the American League:
- The Red Sox are considering how to proceed with outfielder Grady Sizemore, who ended the evening with a .218/.293/.336 slash in 133 plate appearances, reports Joon Lee of WEEI.com. Manager John Farrell indicated that a move was not out of the question. “There’s ongoing discussion,” he said, “not just today but for some time. We’re trying to get the best read we can on our guys here. That doesn’t suggest there’s any change imminent.” While Sizemore is set to earn just $750K in base salary on his comeback deal, he does get $250K bonuses for every 25th plate appearance between 225 and 500 as well as for his 60th, 90th, 120th, and 150th day on the roster. As those milestones begin to approach, the team will have increasing incentives to consider alternatives.
- For the division-rival Blue Jays, a move up in the standings only highlights the need to add starting pitching, writes Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca. While the results from the rotation have actually been pretty solid, Davidi notes that the staff has failed to go deep into games and still lacks a solid, established group of five starters.
- The struggling Rangers should consider marketing star infielders Adrian Beltre and Elvis Andrus over the summer, opines Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. While the club has attractive infield prospects rising through the ranks, its rotation looks thin after its recent run of devastating injuries. Adding some young pitching and temporarily shedding salary in advance of a pitching-rich free agent market could better align the club’s resources for a run in 2015, says Morosi.
- In the midst of a difficult stretch at the plate, Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas has been optioned to Triple-A in favor of Jimmy Paredes. As Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star writes, the move was not surprising at this point, with the 25-year-old sporting a 152/.223/.320 line. Needless to say, Kansas City will hope that the former top prospect can regain his form with some time in the minors; as Cameron writes on Fangraphs, Moustakas has shown serious contact issues.
- Notably, the demotion comes not long before Moustakas would have passed the key threshold of three years of MLB service (he entered the season with 2.111 to his credit). As occurred last year with Danny Espinosa of the Nationals, Moustakas could see his arbitration and free agent eligibility delayed by a year apiece if he does not make it back to the bigs. The same holds true for Hector Santiago of the Angels, who was recently optioned to the minors after beginning 2014 with 2.024 years of service in the bag.
- With the recent example of Stephen Drew‘s re-signing with the Red Sox, it is time for the Mariners to seriously consider a move to bring back Kendrys Morales, writes Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times. The need is now there with Corey Hart joining Logan Morrison on the disabled list, he says, and the club should have the financial flexibility to make it work. Obviously, it is also important to note that the team now has little chance of acquiring a compensatory draft choice arising out of Morales’s decision to decline a qualifying offer. With no obvious alternative suitors for Morales, Seattle should be in a fairly solid position to make a win-win offer.
We covered a couple of Yankees items as part of a New York Notes post earlier today, so now let's take a look around the rest of the AL East…
- Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos said the team is open to possibly extending the contracts of Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Reyes, the GM tells The Toronto Star's Richard Griffin. Bautista (33) and Encarnacion (31) are contracted through 2015 and the Jays have team options on both players for 2016, while Reyes (30) is locked up through the 2017 season. Extensions would take any of the trio well into their late-30's, yet Anthopoulos points to David Ortiz and Carlos Beltran as older players who are still big hitters.
- Also as part of the wide-ranging interview, Anthopoulos discusses his disappointment over the Ervin Santana non-signing, restocking the farm system and more.
- Grady Sizemore will be the Red Sox center fielder on Opening Day, manager John Farrell told reporters (including Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald). Star prospect Jackie Bradley was widely presumed the favorite to take over from Jacoby Ellsbury as Boston's new center fielder this season, yet Bradley struggled to hit in Spring Training and will start the year at Triple-A. Sizemore, meanwhile, enjoyed a big spring and proved he was healthy after missing the last two seasons. Sizemore signed a $750K minor league deal with Boston this winter that could be worth as much as $6MM if Sizemore meets all the incentives.
- Farrell said that Sizemore will still receive regular rest in order to keep him fresh. Since this will free up some outfield playing time, FOX Sports' Jon Paul Morosi wonders if the Red Sox could be in the market for a right-handed hitting outfielder who can play all three OF spots.
- Red Sox sports-medicine coordinator Dan Dyrek played an important part in both convincing Sizemore to sign with Boston and in getting him back in playing condition, Sizemore tells Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal. Dyrek was “the first guy who has understood not only how it happened but what caused it and how to fix it and how to prevent it from happening again,” Sizemore said.
- The Orioles plan to have Jonathan Schoop on the Opening Day roster, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal tweets. Schoop will play both second and third base, splitting time with Steve Lombardozzi and Ryan Flaherty, respectively. The 2014 Baseball America Prospect Handbook ranked Schoop as the fifth-best prospect in the Baltimore farm system, and Schoop fought his way onto the 25-man roster thanks to a huge Spring Training.
Red Sox CEO Larry Lucchino chatted with Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com yesterday and informed Edes that his club and designated hitter David Ortiz have continued to work on an extension over the past few weeks. Ortiz himself told Edes that things were looking good in extension talks, and Edes feels that there's "little doubt" the two parties will agree on a new contract, perhaps before the end of Spring Training.
More news and rumors out of the AL East as you gear up for the weekend…
- MLB.com's Phil Rogers takes a look at Grady Sizemore's remarkable Spring Training, noting that the former Indians All-Star is improbably closing in on a job as Boston's Opening Day center fielder. Rogers offers several quotes from manager John Farrell, who was the Indians' director or player development when Sizemore was working his way through their minor league ranks.
- Stephania Bell of ESPN.com reports that Dr. Neal ElAttrache has lifted all physical restrictions for Orioles third baseman Manny Machado in his rehab from last season's knee injury. Machado has been slowed a bit by mild calf and hamstring strains but is nonetheless free to proceed to the final stages of his rehab. Opening Day is still questionable for the 2013 All-Star, however.
- Orioles manager Buck Showalter was irritated that ESPN received quotes from ElAttrache before the doctor had relayed the information to himself and the team, writes Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun. Connolly adds that the Orioles might keep Machado playing in minor league games so they can increase the amount of at-bats he gets and also back-date a potential DL stint earlier so that he can be activated before the 15th day of the regular season if ready.
- Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette tells MASNsports.com's Steve Melewski that he's proud of his scouting and player development departments, as they've taken a bottom-three farm system and progressively improved it. Asked if he felt that the club's core players would be homegrown five years from now, Duquette said, "That is the only way to do it. I don't know any other way to do it."
- After arriving to camp late due to a visa issue, Juan Carlos Oviedo threw a simulated game to live hitters yesterday, according to MLB.com's Bill Chastain. However, Rays manager Joe Maddon still thinks it could be a long-shot for Oviedo to make the club. Said Maddon: "It became obvious, in spite of the fact that he's throwing the ball well, what really comes rushing to your mind is this guy hasn't been pitching in a while. … And so now you're going to rush him back under these circumstances? It might not be a good idea."