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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.
The biggest trade from this week's Winter Meetings in Orlando is now complete. The Diamondbacks officially announced that they have acquired Mark Trumbo and minor league right-hander A.J. Schugel from the Angels and minor league outfielder Brandon Jacobs from the White Sox in a three-team deal. Arizona will send center fielder Adam Eaton to the White Sox and left-hander Tyler Skaggs to the Angels. The White Sox will also send left-hander Hector Santiago to the Angels.
The Diamondbacks were set on acquiring either Trumbo or Shin-Soo Choo at the Winter Meetings, according to earlier reports. Trumbo (pictured) will slot into the outfield for the D-Backs, which isn't a perfect fit for Arizona given his defensive shortcomings there. Arizona will be looking for Trumbo's power to outweigh his shaky defense; he's belted 66 home runs over the past two seasons, posting a .250/.305/.471 batting line.
In 992 innings as an outfielder throughout his career, Trumbo has a -7.0 UZR/150. While his walk rate climbed to a career-best eight percent in 2013, that's still below the league average, and it came along with a career-worst 27.1 percent strikeout rate. Still, he should provide a great deal of power to a D-Backs outfield that finished last in the Majors in home runs in 2013. In fact, Trumbo's mark of 34 homers alone ties the collective mark posted by Arizona outfielders last season. Trumbo projects to earn $4.7MM via arbitration this offseason and can be controlled through the 2016 campain.
The White Sox have stated a desire to get younger and to add left-handed bats to their lineup, and the acquisition of Eaton will do just that. Formerly one of baseball's top prospects, the 25-year-old Eaton missed more than half of the 2013 season after opening the year on the DL with a sprained ulnar collateral ligament in his left (throwing) elbow.
In 380 career MLB plate apparances, Eaton is a .254/.332/.373 hitter with five homers and seven stolen bases. He's batted .365/.441/.522 with eight homers and 38 steals in 602 career plate appearances at the Triple-A level. Prior to the 2013 season, Baseball America ranked Eaton as Arizona's No. 4 prospect, noting that he'd made enough defensive strides to convince scouts that he is an everyday big league center fielder with double-digit home run pop, plus speed and a strong, accurate throwing arm. Should he pan out, Eaton could provide the White Sox with their center fielder of the future; he's controllable through the 2018 season.
The Angels have been in the market for young, controllable pitchers, and this trade allows them to fill out their rotation with a pair of promising young left-handers. This is the second time that GM Jerry Dipoto has acquired Skaggs. Dipoto acquired Skaggs for the D-Backs from the Angels in a trade for Dan Haren when he was Arizona's interim GM.
Skaggs appeared in the Top 15 of BA's Top 100 list prior to the 2012 and 2013 seasons but has struggled in his brief big league experience to date. Still just 22, he has a 5.43 ERA with 7.5 K/9, 3.7 BB/9 and a 40 percent ground-ball rate in 68 Major League innings. He has a 4.02 ERA with 8.7 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9 in 156 2/3 innings at the Triple-A level — all of which have come with him being one of the league's youngest pitchers. Skaggs won't be eligible for arbitration until at least 2016 and can be controlled through the 2019 campaign if he's in the Majors from here on out.
Santiago, who turns 26 next week, has a career 3.41 ERA with 8.7 K/9, 4.5 BB/9 and a 37.5 percent ground-ball rate in 224 2/3 big league innings. He's not arbitration eligible until next winter and can be controlled through the 2017 campaign. An extreme fly-ball pitcher, Santiago should enjoy Mike Trout playing behind him in center field.
Schugel dealt with blisters early in the season and saw a foot injury cut his season short in July after he posted a 7.05 ERA with 7.7 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 in 89 1/3 innings at Triple-A Salt Lake. However, he posted a 2.89 ERA with 7.0 K/9 and 3.5 BB/9 in 140 innings at Double-A when he was healthy in 2012.
Baseball America ranked Schugel 12th among Angels prospects prior to 2013, noting that a strong fastball/changeup combo should allow him to become a back-of-the-rotation starter despite a questionable breaking pitch. BA also noted that Schugel is an excellent athlete that fields his position well.
Jacobs, 23, came to the White Sox from the Red Sox in the Matt Thornton deal in July. The outfielder hit .244/.320/.407 for three teams at Class-A Advanced and Double-A in 2013. He was eligible for the Rule 5 Draft, as was Schugel, which is why the pair had to technically be included as players to be named later.
ESPN's Keith Law was the first to report the three-team framework (on Twitter), and MLB.com's Steve Gilbert added that the D-Backs would receive two prospects as well (Twitter link). Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic tweeted that the trade was agreed to (Twitter links). Jack Magruder of FOX Sports Arizona tweeted that the D-Backs would receive Schugel from the Angels, and John Gambadoro of Sports 620 KTAR in Phoenix was first to suggest that Jacobs would be the PTBNL coming from Chicago.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
12:22pm: The deal is "getting pretty close," a source tells MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez (Twitter link). Though he was discussed in a separate trade with the White Sox and Angels, Kendrick is not part of this deal, Gonzalez adds.
12:10pm: USA Today's Bob Nightengale reports that the three teams are optimistic about their chances of finalizing the trade (Twitter link). Meanwhile, Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic agrees with Gilbert's report from below, noting that Arizona would receive one prospect from the Angels and one from the Sox (also on Twitter).
11:38am: MLB.com's Steve Gilbert tweets that Arizona would receive a pair of good prospects in addition to Trumbo.
11:27am: Dan Hayes of CSN Chicago (via Twitter) hears that the talks are definitely ongoing but are still in the preliminary phases. The three sides are making some progress but a deal isn't close at this time, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register agrees (on Twitter).
11:02am: The Angels tried to land Santiago from the White Sox in talks for Howie Kendrick, tweets Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times, but they're now focused on getting him as part of this three-team deal.
10:50am: ESPN's Keith Law reports (via Twitter) that the Mark Trumbo talks between the Diamondbacks and Angels have expanded to include the White Sox, with a potential framework sending Adam Eaton to Chicago and Hector Santiago and Tyler Skaggs to the Angels.
Parting with Skaggs and Eaton would be a steep price to pay in order to play Trumbo out of position at a corner outfield spot, but reports have indicated that the D-Backs are "determined" to leave Orlando with either Trumbo or Shin-Soo Choo in tow, and the financial commitment required to add Choo would be significant. Adding Skaggs and Santiago would be a tremendous win for Angels GM Jerry Dipoto, who has been in the market for controllable young starters for months.
The White Sox are looking to move a starting pitcher, according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports. While the Sox would love to unload John Danks' contract, they recognize how difficult that would be. Passan adds that Jose Quintana and Hector Santiago are both available. In order to move Chris Sale, the White Sox would need a package even bigger than the one that expected to be needed to land David Price, according to Passan (Twitter links).
Joel Sherman of the New York Post spoke with an executive that has been in regular contact with the Sox regarding Sale (Twitter link) and was told: "We have asked million times about Sale and never felt they would trade him." Likewise, Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune spoke with White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf who said that while the only untradeable player he's seen in his time as chairman of the White Sox and Bulls was Michael Jordan, the team isn't looking to move Sale and sees him as a big part of its success going forward.
Quintana has been said to be off limits in trades, though reports last night indicated that the Padres have asked for Quintana in trades for Chase Headley. Quintana can be controlled through 2018 while Santiago is controllable through 2017. Santiago has been said to be easier to acquire than Quintana.
As for Danks, he is owed $42.75MM through the 2016 season — an average annual value of $14.25MM. Still just 28 years old, Danks underwent shoulder surgery in 2012 and has a 5.02 ERA over 192 innings over the past two seasons.
The White Sox are open to discussing trades for Chris Sale, Jose Quintana and Hector Santiago, reports Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. Morosi notes that Sale, who can be controlled for a whopping six years at just over $55MM, would command significantly more than even David Price could net the Rays. Morosi runs down a list of several reasons as to why it could make sense for the ChiSox to move their ace this offseason. Here are a few more links pertaining to the South Siders…
- Dan Hayes of CSN Chicago spoke to White Sox GM Rick Hahn this morning (Twitter link). Hahn told Hayes that he wouldn't be doing his job if he didn't at least listen to offers, but he would need an "unfathomable" return to part with Sale.
- One GM told Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports that he thinks teams are pushing the White Sox to reconsider their unwillingness to part with Sale when asked this morning (Twitter link).
- The White Sox are in the process of trying to bring Juan Uribe back to Chicago, reports David Vassegh of FOX Sports 570 AM Radio in Los Angeles (on Twitter). Uribe would fill a need for the Sox, though as GM Rick Hahn told me at last month's GM Meetings, his team prefers left-handed bats.
- The White Sox never got involved on Chicago native Curtis Granderson, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. The Grandy Man signed a four-year, $60MM deal with the Mets last week.
Recent reports have linked Padres third baseman Chase Headley to the White Sox, and Dan Hayes of CSN Chicago adds some more details to that story, noting that the two sides have discussed the switch-hitting Headley numerous times. However, Chicago GM Rick Hahn is loath to meet counterpart Josh Byrnes' request of including Jose Quintana as part of the package.
As Hayes notes, Quintana can be controlled for another five seasons, and the Sox like the pairing of him and Chris Sale at the front of their rotation for the foreseeable future. The Sox are more amenable to trading fellow lefty Hector Santiago, according to Hayes, and they've likely offered him in potential deals for Headley. However, one big league evaluator told Hayes that Santiago's value has been negatively impacted by pitching in the same rotation as Quintana, as teams are frequently more interested in talking about Quintana, who is more consistent.
Though Headley figures to be one of the most oft-discussed players at this week's Winter Meetings, the Padres don't expect to trade their third baseman, sources tell Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times. As for the White Sox, previous reports have indicated that the White Sox consider Quintana, Sale and Avisail Garcia to be untouchable in trades.
Baseball America's Matt Eddy provided a breakdown of the minor trade that went down earlier in the week that saw the Twins ship Duke Welker back to the Pirates in exchange for Kris Johnson. Johnson has an above-average two- and four-seam fastball that sits in the low 90s, but his breaking pitches are average at best, says Eddy. One bonus for the Twins is that Johnson has three minor league options remaining, while Welker has just one. Here's more on the Twins and the rest of the AL Central…
- The Twins were interested in free agent/reclamation project Grady Sizemore at one point, but they've moved on from Sizemore, according to Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN (Twitter link).
- ESPN's Buster Olney tweets that the Royals have had internal discussions about acquiring Brett Anderson from the Athletics. An Anderson acquisition would be a somewhat similar move to GM Dayton Moore's decision to buy low on Ervin Santana in a trade last October. Unlike Santana, however, the Royals could control Anderson for two years, as his contract contains a $12MM option for 2015.
- White Sox southpaw Hector Santiago told the Chicago Tribune's Colleen Kane that the summer trades of Jake Peavy and Matt Thornton taught him that any player can get traded. Santiago said he tries not to worry about hearing his name in rumors. He added that he hopes Chicago's decision to shut him down after 130 innings is an indication that they're protecting his arm so he can throw 200 innings in 2014.
- The Indians will listen to offers on Asdrubal Cabrera this winter, writes Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer in his latest mailbag. Hoynes adds that any trading the team does will likely prioritize getting pitching in return, and the team would like to add a free agent starting pitcher. Hoynes lists Bartolo Colon and Jake Westbrook as speculative possibilities.
White Sox lefty Hector Santiago is now a client of Excel Sports Management, MLBTR has learned. His primary agent will be Jim Murray. Santiago had formerly been represented by Brian McCafferty of MSM Sports Management. You can check out Excel's MLB client list here. MLBTR's agency database can be found here.
Santiago, 25, posted a 3.56 ERA in 149 innings for the White Sox this year, including 23 starts. With just over two years of Major League service at present, Santiago projects to be eligible for arbitration for the first time after the 2014 season.
Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos is no stranger to the trade market. Early reports have already pegged Hank Conger and Chris Iannetta as potential trade targets for Toronto, and now Scott Merkin and Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com report that the Jays are targeting White Sox second baseman Gordon Beckham as well.
Beckham, 27, hit .267/.322/.372 with a career-low five homers in a career-low 103 games this season. A broken hamate bone in his right hand cost him nearly two months of the 2013 campaign, which could have something to do with the decline in home runs. However, Beckham has never lived up to the hype that surrounded him after being selected with the eighth overall pick in the 2008 draft, slashing just .249/.314/.380 in 2,217 big league plate appearances.
Beckham is eligible for arbitration for the second time this offseason, and MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projects a raise from $2.9MM to $3.5MM. He is under team control through the 2015 season.
Chisolm and Merkin go on to write that given the Jays' need to improve the rotation, it's possible that they could look to expand the deal to include a starting pitcher. The MLB.com duo notes that lefties Hector Santiago and John Danks are said to be available, also adding that the White Sox covet minor league right-handers Aaron Sanchez and Marcus Stroman. That pair of former first-round picks seems to me to be too steep an asking price for the players that the Blue Jays are targeting, but Merkin and Chisholm feel that Chicago GM Rick Hahn would need to be overwhelmed to part with Beckham.