Hunter Harvey Rumors

Dylan Bundy Shut Down Indefinitely

Highly-regarded Orioles pitching prospect Dylan Bundy has been shut down indefinitely as he continues to deal with shoulder issues, manager Buck Showalter told reporters (press conference video and story via the Baltimore Sun). There is currently no schedule for the former fourth overall draft pick to return to action.

Bundy reached the majors briefly in his first full season as a pro at just 19 years of age, and entered the 2013 campaign rated as the game’s second best overall prospect. But he never threw a competitive pitch that season and ultimately required Tommy John surgery.

More recently, elbow issues have given way to shoulder concerns for the 22-year-old. Bundy experienced soreness about a month ago while working at Double-A and has not pitched since.

As the Sun’s Dan Connolly reports (links to Twitter), famed surgeon Dr. James Andrews found evidence of calcification in the back area of the shoulder. The incomparably experienced Andrews indicated to Bundy that he’d never before observed that type of calcium buildup in that area. Per the report, the calcium accumulation should at some point no longer cause pain, but Bundy will need to wait until then to get back on the mound.

That makes for an uncertain timeline. “Dylan throwing again is not imminent,” said Showalter. Details of Bundy’s path back to action remain sketchy, as Showalter explained that he’ll be “just kind of shut down for the near future, for a while, [to] kind of let everything calm down [and] see where we are. … He won’t be throwing for a little while, we’ll see how long that is.”

The latest medical evaluations may actually not be entirely negative, the skipper suggested, as he noted that he has not “heard surgery mentioned” as a possibility. Bundy himself added that there is no current thought that a surgical procedure will be necessary, as Connolly tweets. While Bundy says he hopes to be able to pitch again this year, he adds that a return that swift seems unlikely.

Notably, because Bundy signed a major league deal out of the draft (as is no longer permitted), he has already burned through all of his option years despite just one big league call-up, Connolly notes on Twitter. That obviously could complicate the team’s ability to retain him if he is not ready to contribute at the big league level come next spring.

Meanwhile, Showalter also noted that former first-round pick Matt Hobgood will need shoulder surgery. Hobgood, 24, went fifth overall back in 2009, but has never been able to harness his potential. He owns a 4.98 ERA over 325 career innings in the minors and has been working as a reliever over recent seasons.

Baltimore did get somewhat more promising news on another young arm, Hunter Harvey. Showalter said that the 20-year-old right-hander will soon begin a throwing program after being diagnosed with a flexor mass strain in his forearm earlier in the year. Harvey entered the season as a consensus top-100 prospect.


AL East Notes: Kelly, Cueto, Whitley, Harvey

Red Sox righty Joe Kelly had the luxury of having Yadier Molina call his games with the Cardinals, yet Kelly is now having to manage his own games, WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford.  Kelly has gotten off to a rough start in Boston, and he admits “my stats don’t show, but I feel like I’m better at” reading situations and recognizing what pitches to throw at the right times.  Here’s some more from around the AL East…

  • Twenty scouts were in Cincinnati to watch Johnny Cueto‘s start tonight, Hal McCoy of the Dayton Daily News reports.  The group included high-ranking evaluators from the Blue Jays and Padres.  Cueto delivered another impressive start (7 IP, 2 ER, 5 H, 3 BB, 9 K) for his audience in a no-decision in the Reds‘ 4-3 victory over the Giants.
  • Yankees right-hander Chase Whitley left tonight’s game after just 1 2/3 innings due to an elbow injury.  Whitley will undergo an MRI tomorrow and he told reporters (including Chad Jennings of the LoHud Yankees blog) that he has been coping with the injury for a while but hadn’t told the club about it until tonight.
  • Orioles prospect Hunter Harvey will visit Dr. James Andrews next week in regards to his injured right elbow, Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reports.  Harvey underwent an MRI yesterday and O’s executive VP Dan Duquette said the club believes the injury is a flexor mass strain in Harvey’s right forearm.  Duquette is hopeful the injury won’t require surgery and Harvey can return to action this season after a rest period, though these plans will likely change if Andrews disagrees with the initial diagnosis.  Harvey, the 22nd overall pick of the 2013 draft, drew high placements in preseason prospect rankings from ESPN’s Keith Law (16th), MLB.com (41st) and Baseball America (68th).
  • The Orioles have ten players scheduled for free agency this winter, and if MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko were to set an over/under of three players re-signed by the team, he would “take the under if pressed to wager today.”  The free agent trio represented by Scott Boras (Wei-Yin Chen, Chris Davis and Matt Wieters) may potentially be the likeliest to depart, and Kubatko says “you’ll find plenty of people in the industry, and at least a few in the Orioles organization, who are making that assumption.”  Kubatko does stress that it’s still far too early to guess with any certainty about who could be leaving or staying, however — in Wieters’ case, for instance, he has yet to even hit the field this season.

AL Notes: Iwakuma, Masterson, Red Sox, Harvey

Mariners righty Hisashi Iwakuma has been shut down for ten days to two weeks after experiencing continued upper back tightness, Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times reports“He’s going to be pushed back, so to speak,” said manager Lloyd McClendon. “His rehab has not gone as well as we thought it would have gone. He’s still experiencing some stiffness.” The longer Iwakuma is delayed, the more it begins to look like another arm might be a trade deadline consideration for Seattle.

  • Meanwhile, the Red Sox rotation woes worsened last night with a rough outing for Justin Masterson. As Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com reports, manager John Farrell indicated that there is cause to believe there is more to be concerned with than the poor results. “The last two times out for Justin have not been anywhere close to what he’s shown this year — set aside prior to the start of 2015,” said Farrell. “Clearly, he’s not right. Whether that’s physical, whether that’s delivery-wise, the ball is not coming out of his hand as he’s shown the better part of the year. We’ve got to gather information, we’ve got to check on him in the morning, get a full workup, get a better assessment of where things are.”
  • Of course, it’s far from clear that there is any realistic possibility of an outside addition to the Red Sox staff in the immediate future. As Alex Speier of the Boston Globe explains, utilizing the MLBTR Transaction Tracker, history teaches that starters (at least, impactful ones) are rarely dealt in the season’s first two months. Regardless, the club figures to be at or near a breaking point with its current starting five, and it would be surprising if internal replacements — Eduardo Rodriguez, most interesting among them — are not at least given a chance as the summer draws near.
  • The Orioles are holding their breath after 20-year-old prospect Hunter Harvey left an outing with elbow tightness, as Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun reports. The rising Harvey, who is coming back from a shin fracture suffered this spring, already was shut down late last year with some elbow concerns and now is set for an MRI. His health and progress is critical to the organization, particularly with Dylan Bundy dealing with his own elbow problems and with the aforementioned Rodriguez shipped out at last year’s trade deadline.


Jon Lester Rumors: Thursday

As of late last night, the Pirates and the Cardinals were said to be the two teams most aggressively pursuing Jon Lester, who was scratched from Wednesday’s scheduled start. At one point yesterday, the Orioles looked close to a deal, but conflicting reports emerged on the severity of those negotiations. Regardless, Baltimore does seem to be in the mix, and a late-to-the-party mystery team was revealed to be the Athletics. We’ll keep track of the final stages of the Lester sweepstakes in this post…

Earlier Updates

  • Hall of Fame reporter Peter Gammons tells WEEI’s John Dennis and Gerry Callahan that the Dodgers aren’t in the mix to acquire Lester at this point (Twitter link).

Stark’s Latest: Price, Phillies, O’s, Royals, Pirates

Jayson Stark of ESPN.com has a new Rumblings & Grumblings column posted in which he runs down a plethora of trade-related topics. You’ll need to read the full post to get all the information and analysis, but here are some of the highlights …

  • The Rays are waiting until next week to make any decisions on whether or not to trade ace David Price. However, as Stark points out, it could still be a difficult judgment call as to whether or not the Rays are close enough to go for it or far enough back to sell. Tampa is currently seven games back of the division lead and four and a half games back from a Wild Card berth.
  • One executive tells Stark that he’s convinced the team will move Price if they get a big enough offer. Said the exec, “They’ve really built their team by making these kinds of deals. But if the return they can get now is something they think they can get this winter, they’ll hold him.” Another exec tells Stark that waiting until the winter could reduce the return in a trade by 30 to 40 percent.
  • Stark runs down the possible landing spots for Price, calling the Dodgers the favorite, but noting that L.A. has said it will not part with both Joc Pederson and Corey Seager, even in a Price trade. The Mariners are the second choice, he notes, with the Cardinals listed third followed by the Giants and Blue Jays (both of whom are painted as long shots by Stark).
  • If the Rays do sell Price, they’ll be open for business and listen on a number of other players, including Ben Zobrist, Matt Joyce and Yunel Escobar. Their preference is to deal Price and Zobrist in separate trades, if that comes to pass.
  • The Phillies are the next team that everyone is watching, with nine players that could be moved but contractual problems surrounding many of them. Most execs feel the Phillies will eat money to facilitate deals and aren’t looking to just dump players on other clubs. Specifically, the team is in need of position-player prospects, one exec who has spoken with Philadelphia tells Stark.
  • Marlon Byrd is the most likely to be dealt, with the Mariners, Royals and Reds scouting him. The Reds, however, may not be able to take on Byrd’s remaining $3MM in 2014, and the Mariners and Royals are on his no-trade list.
  • Jonathan Papelbon and Cliff Lee aren’t likely to be dealt, executives tell Stark. In Lee’s case, they feel he’s a lock to clear waivers. One exec tells Stark that he’d be more inclined to take a chance on Lee were he a free agent, but his contract is too risky at this point.
  • Cole Hamels isn’t likely to be dealt either. It’s not that the Phillies aren’t willing to move him, it’s just that the prices they’ve specified consist of packages “that no one would possibly give up.”
  • A.J. Burnett‘s preference is indeed to return to the Pirates, but Pittsburgh would need assurances that he’s not going to exercise his player option for 2015. The Orioles‘ interest is said to be lukewarm, while the Phillies asked the Yankees and were told, “No thanks.”
  • At least half a dozen teams are in on Antonio Bastardo, whom Stark concretely says will be traded in the next week.
  • The Orioles aren’t looking for a closer upgrade over Zach Britton, but they’re looking for a rotation upgrade and a lefty reliever that’s more than just a left-on-left specialist. They’ve shown no interest in dealing Hunter Harvey or Dylan Bundy.
  • The Royals have called on virtually every right-handed hitter on the market, but they’re look specifically at right fielders, including Byrd, Alex Rios, Chris Denorfia and Dayan Viciedo. The first two of those options still look most likely.
  • Stark would be surprised if the Pirates didn’t add at least one pitcher, if not two in the next week, but it’d have to be at least a No. 3 option in terms of starters. On the relief front, they’re looking at seventh-inning arms, as they’re content with Tony Watson in the eighth and Mark Melancon in the ninth.

Orioles Showing Most Early Interest In Samardzija

2:27pm: Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun adds to the story, reporting that the Cubs had one of their top talent evaluators — one who is not typically assigned to low-level minor league games — present at one of Harvey’s most recent start for Class-A Delmarva.

Connolly asked Orioles executive VP Dan Duquette about the timeline for trades, and Duquette replied by pointing out that the team just made a trade to acquire Nick Hundley this weekend. Duquette added that he and his staff are constantly talking to other teams, though naturally, he declined to comment on Samardzija specifically.

Of course, as Connolly points out, even if the O’s are being aggressive, it doesn’t necessarily behoove the Cubs to deal early. They could potentially extract more from a deal by getting other teams involved in the bidding to drive up the eventual return.

10:42am: While we’re still more than two months from the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, multiple sources have indicated to Bruce Levine of CBS Chicago that the Orioles are the “leading team of interest” in the early stages of the Jeff Samardzija sweepstakes. According to Levine, there’s mutual interest between the two teams, which isn’t surprising given the Orioles’ wealth of young pitching.

Baltimore has built up a strong crop of top-tier pitching prospects in the form of Dylan Bundy, Kevin Gausman, Hunter Harvey (who, as a 2013 draftee, is ineligible to be dealt until after this year’s draft) and Eduardo Rodriguez. Each of those players ranked inside the game’s top 61 prospects, per Baseball Prospectus. While Harvey didn’t crack the Top 100 lists of Baseball America or MLB.com, the other three are all present on those lists as well. That crop makes the O’s a particularly logical trading partner for the Cubs, who are stocked with high-end hitting prospects in their well-regarded farm system but lack potential high-impact arms.

Those names might seem a steep price to pay for Orioles fans, but it’s likely that the Cubs would ask for two from that list, in my opinion. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports recently reported that the Cubs asked for Drew Hutchison and one of Marcus Stroman or Aaron Sanchez from the Blue Jays this winter, and that was before Samardzija got off to the best start of his career.

The 29-year-old Samardzija ranks second only to Adam Wainwright with a 1.68 ERA among qualified starters (Wainwright, at 1.67, has only been nominally better in terms of ERA). He’s racked up 75 innings while averaging 7.7 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9 to go along with a career-best 51 percent ground-ball rate. The Chicago ace is affordable, as he’s earning just $5.35MM after avoiding arbitration last winter, and he’s controllable through the 2015 season. Sabermetric estimators agree that Samardzija’s start has been outstanding, with FIP pegging him at 2.79 and xFIP estimating 3.27.

Last summer, Cubs GM Jed Hoyer and president Theo Epstein were able to extract a package of C.J. Edwards (now the game’s No. 28 ranked prospect, per BA), Mike Olt, Justin Grimm and Neil Ramirez for two months of Matt Garza. It seems logical that Chicago’s front office will look to exceed that package in order to deal a pitcher with more team control that is off to a better start and comes with far less injury concern than the one they traded away last summer.

Baltimore currently sits just 3.5 games back in the AL East, thanks largely to the team’s offense. Orioles starters have combined for a 4.57 ERA this season, which ranks 25th in the Majors.


AL East Notes: Drew, Doubront, Kelley, Harvey

Stephen Drew chose to ink a one-year deal with the Red Sox in spite of the fact that he received multi-year offers since the start of the season, agent Scott Boras said today on MLB Network Radio on Sirius XM (via WEEI.com’s Joon Lee). “The quest, knowing that Stephen had set forth a path to achieve the dynamic of being an unrestricted free agent the idea was to put himself in a position where the team, and within an environment we knew he could be successful,” said Boras. “It turned out we did get multi-year offers as the season opened up but it was Stephen’s decision to take a one-year deal and return to the Red Sox and have a chance to compete for another championship.” Boras indicated that, after Drew was unable to get a multi-year contract wrapped up before the season, his agency focused on the fact that Drew could avoid a second consecutive qualifying offer by waiting to sign until the season had started, calling it “a right that is of great and substantial value.”

  • Red Sox Starter Felix Doubront has been placed on the 15-day DL after experiencing increasing shoulder numbness throughout last night’s game. Lee has the story, noting that Doubront will await the results of an MRI today. The 26-year-old lefty said today that he had banged the shoulder into his car door at some point prior to the start, tweets Alex Speier of WEEI.com.
  • Doubront’s injury adds to the increasing uncertainty in the Red Sox rotation, which has compiled 4.6 fWAR but owns a mediocre 4.31 ERA. Jake Peavy has seen his earned run mark balloon from 1.93 (after his April 15 start) up to 4.33 at present, while Clay Buchholz has looked out of sorts and was run early again today. Speier took a look at the club’s internal options to fill in for Doubront, each of whom could be called upon if other needs arise as well. Brandon Workman still seems the most likely immediately call-up due to his recent big league experience, with Allen Webster, Rubby De La Rosa, and Anthony Ranaudo all viable options as well. (Speier also mentions Matt Barnes, but notes that he is not on the 40-man and is still building up arm strength after a delayed start to the season.)
  • Meanwhile, the pitching injury issues continued to be compounded for the Yankees, who learned that reliever Shawn Kelley has suffered a setback, as Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News reports. Kelley, who spent time as the team’s injury-replacement closer earlier in the season, had been expected to begin mound work in the coming days, but he experienced back stiffness after playing catch. Nevertheless, manager Joe Girardi said that an MRI had shown no structural issues.
  • A cast of Baseball Prospectus writers participated in a written debate over the prospect value of Orioles righty Hunter Harvey, who opened the year as the game’s 58th-best prospect in the view of BP and has dominated early in 2014. While Ryan Parker and CJ Wittmann disagree slightly on Harvey’s ceiling, both agree that he projects as at least a number-three starter and is likely to jump up on prospect lists. Baltimore seems to have a steal with Harvey, who was snatched with the 22nd overall pick in last year’s draft and signed for the slot recommendation of about $1.95MM. He slots alongside well-regarded minor league arms like Kevin Gausman, Dylan Bundy, and Eduardo Rodriguez to form an impressive group of young pitching filtering up to Baltimore.