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Hector Rondon Rumors
The Cubs have shifted from developing players to playing for the win, writes Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune. The eye-opening moment came last week when manager Joe Maddon removed closer Hector Rondon from the ninth inning of a 5-4 game. Now the club is going with a closer-by-committee approach – a familiar tactic from Maddon’s days in Tampa Bay. Maddon himself confirms that he prefers to have a set closer – it makes his job easier. However, doing the best thing for the club is a positive wake up call for the entire roster.
Here’s more from the senior circuit’s central division:
- Maddon says that recently signed reliever Rafael Soriano may not reach the majors until around the All-Star break, tweets MLB.com’s Bruce Levine. Before he can shake off the rust in the minors, Soriano must obtain a visa. As we learned on Friday, the reliever can opt out of his deal if he’s not on the active roster by the All-Star Game. He’ll earn a pro-rated $4.1MM base salary with up to $4MM in incentives. Additional visa delays could have implications for his salary and opt-out clause.
- Brewers third baseman Aramis Ramirez does not have a no trade clause, but he’s not letting trade rumors affect him, reports Adam McCalvy of MLB.com. Ramirez has hit just .223/.263/.406 on the season. He had his best game yesterday, bopping three doubles and driving in five RBI. Ramirez plans to retire after the 2015 season so it’s reasonable to assume he’s open to finishing the season with a contender. He has recently been tied to the Mets, but New York is looking for either a clear upgrade at third base or a versatile player. Ramirez will need more games like yesterday to fit the bill.
The latest installment of Jon Heyman’s weekly Inside Baseball column is up over at CBS Sports, and Heyman begins by addressing the Troy Tulowitzki trade talk that has once again surfaced. Heyman, like many others, feels the time has arrived for the marriage between Tulo and the Rockies to come to an end, but neither Tulowitzki or owner Dick Monfort wants to appear to be the “bad guy” in the situation. Heyman hears that Tulowitzki would prefer to play for the Yankees, Giants, Dodgers or Angels if he is traded, though one person who knows the shortstop well told Heyman that he may ok with the Mets, Cardinals and Red Sox as well. Tulowitzki’s preferred destination is largely a moot point though, as his contract doesn’t have a no-trade clause. Heyman notes that in a year’s time, Tulowitzki will receive 10-and-5 rights, allowing him to veto any deal. That reality only furthers Colorado’s need to move Tulowitzki, Heyman opines. Heyman also lists 11 clubs that he could see making some degree of sense for the face of the Rockies’ franchise.
Some more highlights from a lengthy but always-informative column…
- The Cubs “may consider” Rafael Soriano at some point as a means of lengthening their bullpen, according to Heyman. I’d note that while the team has looked a bit thin beyond Hector Rondon and Pedro Strop, the Cubs just got Justin Grimm back from the disabled list and likely won’t be without Neil Ramirez for too much longer.
- Astros top prospect — and arguably the top prospect in all of MLB — Carlos Correa could be up to the Majors within three weeks, one Houston source estimated to Heyman. Also of note on the Astros front, he writes that a pursuit of Cole Hamels would appear to be a long shot, but Scott Kazmir (Houston native) and Clay Buchholz are names to keep an eye on for Houston, should either become available.
- Kyle Lohse seems like a natural candidate to be traded this offseason, but the Brewers are particularly interested in shedding Matt Garza‘s contract. The right-hander is guaranteed $12.5MM in 2015 and will earn the same rate in each of the following two seasons. Neither pitcher, however, has been particularly impressive for Milwaukee.
- Jean Segura is one of the players that the Brewers have the least interest in trading, but Heyman hears that the Padres would be interested, should Brewers GM Doug Melvin entertain offers. San Diego likes Alexi Amarista but prefers to use him in a utility role rather than as a starter.
- Rival teams seriously doubt that the Mets would ever consider parting ways with Noah Syndergaard, but there’s “a little hope” that the team could be persuaded to part with highly touted left-hander Steven Matz in a trade. Heyman adds that the Mets are going to remain patient with Wilmer Flores as their shortstop for the time being.
- It’s been reported that Yunel Escobar wanted no part of playing with Oakland, and Heyman hears that the reasoning was as simple as the fact that Escobar is very particular when it comes to geographical preferences and wanted to remain on the East coast. A trade to the Nationals accomplished that goal.
- The clause in Alex Guerrero‘s contract that allows him to opt out of his deal and elect free agency at season’s end, if he is traded, hinders his trade value. That shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, but given the presence of Guerrero and the versatile Justin Turner, Juan Uribe could end up as a summer trade candidate for the Dodgers.
- In some agency news, Heyman reports that Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorius will now be represented by Casey Close of Excel Sports Management — the agent for Gregorius’ predecessor, Derek Jeter. Gregorius had previously been repped by the Wasserman Media Group.
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The Brewers fell to the Reds today by a score of 5-3, thereby officially eliminating the club from the postseason despite having spent 150 days in first place in the NL Central this season. As MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy notes, Milwaukee’s collapse makes the Brewers the first team since divisional play began in 1969 to spend that much time in first place but miss the postseason (Twitter link).
Here are some notes from Milwaukee and elsewhere in the game’s central divisions …
- Ryan Braun could at least theoretically be moved from the outfield to plug the Brewers‘ hole at first base, reports MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy. Manager Ron Roenicke said that the team had discussed that possibility, but indicated that it was a hypothetical discussion that did not seem likely to go anywhere. If Braun stays in the outfield, the team will both need to find a new first bagger (both Mark Reynolds and Lyle Overbay are free agents) and will face a more difficult decision whether to tender a contract to Gerardo Parra. As McCalvy notes, there are currently three possibilities already on the club’s 40-man roster in Matt Clark, Hunter Morris, and Jason Rogers. Otherwise, Milwaukee could turn to a free agent market that does appear to have a decent number of lumbering slugger types available.
- Brewers third baseman Aramis Ramirez will soon meet with his agent, Paul Kinzer, to discuss his strategic options, writes McCalvy. Ramirez says that he has yet to seriously consider his future, though generally would like to stay with Milwaukee and is not sure he is interested in committing to multiple years. If he does decide to test the open market, Ramirez would need to turn down a $14MM mutual option (if it is offered in lieu of a $4MM buyout). Though his production is down somewhat this year, the 36-year-old remains a solid regular and would draw plenty of attention on the open market.
- After a rain delay put a premature end to the last start of the season for Phil Hughes of the Twins, the club offered him a chance to make a relief appearance this weekend to notch the last out needed to trigger a $500K contract bonus, reports MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger (links to Twitter). Even more remarkable than that offer, perhaps, is the fact that Hughes declined, saying that he “owe[s] too much to the organization over the next two years to risk getting hurt.” (GM Terry Ryan said that it was not possible simply to give Hughes the cash, since the CBA would require a completely restructured contract, though Hughes also shot down that idea as setting a “bad precedent.”) Needless to say, this interesting tale puts a shine on an already gleaming turnaround year for Hughes.
- The emergence of Hector Rondon as the Cubs‘ closer this year makes him an easy choice to keep the role next year, writes MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat. Rondon, 26, took a big step forward in 2014, striking out nearly nine batters per nine (against 2.2 BB/9) while registering a 2.49 ERA. If he continues to rack up the saves — he sits at 27 on the year — Rondon will set himself up for a nice payday when he reaches arbitration eligibility after next season. His continued presence at the back of the pen — bolstered by Pedro Strop and Neil Ramirez, both of whom have had strong campaigns — could keep the Cubs out of the free agent market for late-inning arms.
Each year, Major League Baseball's Winter Meetings conclude with the Rule 5 Draft. For those who are unfamiliar with the event, MLBTR offers an in-depth description, but here's a quick overview.
Players are eligible for the Rule 5 Draft if they aren't on the 40-man roster four or five years after signing, depending on the age at which they signed. Teams draft in the reverse order of the previous season's standings but aren't required to make a selection. If they do choose a player, they pay his former team $50K and must keep that player on the Major League roster all season or offer him back to his original team for $25K.
The results from the Major League phase:
- Astros take righty Josh Fields from Red Sox
- Cubs take righty Hector Rondon from Indians
- Rockies take lefty Danny Rosenbaum from Nationals
- Twins take righty Ryan Pressly from Red Sox
- Indians take first baseman Chris McGuiness from Rangers
- Marlins take outfielder Alfredo Silverio from Dodgers
- Red Sox take second baseman Jeff Kobernus from Nationals; traded to Tigers for infielder/outfielder Justin Henry
- Blue Jays
- Mets take lefty Kyle Lobstein from Rays; traded to Tigers for cash considerations
- Diamondbacks take righty Starling Peralta from Cubs
- Phillies take outfielder Ender Inciarte from Diamondbacks
- White Sox take infielder Angel Sanchez from Angels
- Orioles take lefty T.J. McFarland from Indians
- Rangers take righty Coty Woods from Rockies
Second round of Major League phase:
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