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Huston Street Rumors
We just took a quick look at the NL East; here’s the latest from the rest of the National League:
- The Brewers will once again recall top prospect Jimmy Nelson, this time to take the rotation spot of the struggling Marco Estrada, as Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported yesterday (via Twitter). Nelson, who entered the year with 27 days of service, received a one-game callup earlier in the year. Now, it seems he could be in the bigs to stay. At this point, he will not be able to accrue sufficient service time to qualify for Super Two status.
- With the Pirates bullpen showing some signs of wear, the club will be on the lookout for relief help in addition to starters, reports Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. One possibility, says Biertempfel, is Huston Street of the Padres. Though he figures to require a substantial return, Street would potentially slot in as the club’s closer with Mark Melancon returning to an 8th-inning role. Pittsburgh has also recently scouted the Red Sox, who have several arms that could appeal.
- The Dodgers have now sat center fielder Andre Ethier twice in a row against righties, leading Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com to wonder whether the club will look for an alternative. Scott Van Slyke, who has been in the lineup, does not look like a long-term solution in that role, so Saxon suggests that top prospect Joc Pederson could potentially receive a nod. If that happens, says Saxon, the club may well “fell compelled” to deal one of the team’s four highly-paid outfielders over the summer.
- Here’s the latest on the Padres‘ GM search, which the club hopes to wrap up by mid-August, according to a tweet from Scott Miller of Bleacher Report. The team will ultimately sit down with about a dozen options, then call back a few for a second interview. Today, the club announced, MLB senior VP for baseball operations Kim Ng had an interview. Meanwhile, internal possibility A.J. Hinch has told the Pads that he does not wish to be considered, tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.
There were several notes yesterday on the Padres‘ search for a new GM. The club interviewed Rangers assistant GM A.J. Preller yesterday, reports MLB.com’s Corey Brock, joining prior candidates Larry Beinfest, Logan White of the Dodgers, Ray Montgomery of the Diamondbacks, and Billy Eppler of the Yankees. Today, the team had a sit-down with Red Sox assistant GM Mike Hazen, per Peter Gammons of GammonsDaily.com (via Twitter). Meanwile, Cardinals assistant GM Mike Girsch has withdrawn himself from consideration, per Bob Nightengale of USA Today (Twitter link). As Nightengale further tweets, some potential candidates have expressed a belief that it will take upwards of two to three years to effect a turnaround in San Diego.
Here’s the latest trade deadline chatter from the Friars and the rest of the NL West:
- The Padres are asking for a big return to move late-inning righties Joaquin Benoit and Huston Street, reports Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times (via Twitter). A reunion with the Tigers makes sense for Benoit, tweets Jon Morosi of FOX Sports, because the sides parted on good terms.
- The Dodgers are looking into the starting pitching market, particularly after losing Josh Beckett to the 15-day DL, reports Shaikin. Though Los Angeles hopes Beckett’s hip impingement will only cause him to miss one start (with the benefit of the All-Star break), the club is readying for a longer absence. Of course, Paul Maholm remains in the fold, and the club has fill-in options at Triple-A, but those appear to be temporary options. Shaikin says that the team lacks the kind of rotation depth that it would prefer, and could pursue either a depth arm (he gives Jake Peavy and Bartolo Colon as hypothetical examples) or a high-end pitcher such as David Price or Cole Hamels.
- Giants GM Brian Sabean says that his team is willing to consider any and all trade proposals, reports Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News. “We’ve told everybody that everybody we have is in play,” said the long-tenured GM. “There are no untouchables in our organization.” While he expressed a desire to be patient, he expressed consternation at the team’s recent struggles. “Unfortunately, we’ve leaked oil in a lot of areas,” said Sabean. “That further confuses what you think you might want to do or have to do in and around the trade deadline.” As far as where an addition could be made, Sabean indicated that many spots are in play: “All our prospects are in play, but at this point we need bullpen help, you can always use another starter, second base, bench help,” said Sabean. “Just a lot of areas where you need shoring up and obviously we’re not [going to] be able to do that totally in the trade market.”
- Last night, we took a look at some comments from Rockies owner Dick Monfort, courtesy of Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post. Notably, he said that he has no plans to deal star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki. This morning, Saunders posted the full transcript of his interview with Monfort, and there is plenty more to cover. Monfort says that the organization’s greatest need is starting pitching depth, and said he “would love to have another starting pitcher before the trade deadline,” preferably “somebody that we could have control of for a period of time.” The club had interest in acquiring Jeff Samardzija, but “the asking price was Eddie Butler and some other stuff,” which Monfort found too steep.
- Though Colorado has one of the worst records in the league, Monfort says that the team is not a seller, at least at this point. After weathering the injuries and a tough stretch in the schedule, he said that he is holding out hope that the Rockies can creep back into the wild card picture. Monfort said that he does not anticipate trading starter Jorge De La Rosa or outfielder Michael Cuddyer, who he “would like to figure out a way to keep” beyond this season.
The Padres have signed fourth-round selection Nick Torres, reports MLB.com’s Corey Brock (on Twitter). Torres, whose slot was valued at $445K, received a $406.7K bonus and is already DHing for the team’s Arizona Rookie League affiliate tonight. Torres ranked as the No. 117 prospect in the draft per BA, and MLB.com ranked him 109th. Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com note that Torres was the heart of a strong Cal Poly team and profiles as a corner outfielder that can generate consistently hard contact and has plenty of raw power to tap into.
Here’s more on the Padres…
- The Padres wanted to interview Indians assistant GM Mike Chernoff for their vacant GM slot, but he turned down the opportunity to interview and will remain in Cleveland, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports (on Twitter). David Forst of the A’s and Jason McLeod of the Cubs took the same route, Heyman notes.
- Jeff Francoeur, currently enjoying a strong season for the Friars’ Triple-A affiliate, has a rolling opt-out in his contract and could soon leave for a Major League opportunity, reports Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish. Francoeur’s contract allows him to leave should a team offer him a big league deal, and one source suggested to Cotillo that the Blue Jays have have interest. Frenchy is slashing a healthy .297/.325/.485 with 15 big flies this season, though those numbers have come in the very hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League.
- ESPN’s Jim Bowden feels that the Orioles, Tigers, Angels and Reds are good fits for Huston Street and offers his thoughts on what each club would have to surrender in order to pry the potential All-Star away from San Diego (ESPN Insider subscription required). Street, who has a $7MM club option for the 2015 season, has posted a stunning 0.90 ERA with a 32-to-7 K/BB ratio in 30 innings this year.
- The Padres’ decision to extend Seth Smith was simply weird, writes Fangraphs’ Dave Cameron. While Smith can more than justify the relatively small investment, his value likely won’t ever be higher, and the Padres probably aren’t going to win during the life of this contract. San Diego hasn’t been able to decide whether it’s rebuilding or pushing for contention in years, Cameron writes, and this move further exemplifies that indecision despite the fact that it came after the team dismissed its GM.
The Padres have received a significant number of trade inquiries on late-inning relievers Huston Street and Joaquin Benoit, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Sitting ten games under .500 and having recently dismissed GM Josh Byrnes, San Diego certainly figures to be a seller.
As Heyman writes, Street and Benoit could be the team’s best trade deadline pieces. (It is worth noting that starter Ian Kennedy and third baseman Chase Headley might also bring strong returns.) The pair of righties has been outstanding: Street, 30, has let in less than one earned run per nine with 9.6 K/9 against 2.3 BB/9, while Benoit, 36, has a 1.42 ERA and an even more-sterling 10.5 K/9 versus 2.9 BB/9. And Street, in particular, has a fairly attractive contract, as he is owed $7MM this year and comes with a $7MM club option for 2015. (Neither player has no-trade protection, Heyman notes.)
All things considered, teams looking to bolster the back end of their bullpens may not find better options elsewhere. Clubs presently checking the market for late-inning relief, according to Heyman, include the Tigers, Angels, Blue Jays, Orioles, Brewers, and Marlins, with the Yankees, Twins, and Indians also potentially joining the mix.
The Padres are currently 10 games below .500 and 14.5 games behind in the NL West despite a pitching staff that ranks eighth in the Majors in ERA, and ownership is losing patience with the club, according to multiple reports. In an appearance with Darren Smith of Mighty 1090 radio in San Diego yesterday (audio link), Padres CEO Mike Dee said called the team’s current standing “unacceptable.” Dee notes that as an organization, “we’re all accountable,” but he made little effort to hide the fact that changes could be on the horizon.
“I wouldn’t be doing my job if I was not looking at everything and everybody in this organization from top to bottom … We increased payroll 25 percent. We got an enormous commitment by ownership to do that, and it’s not getting done. And when it’s not getting done, everybody and everything gets put under the microscope, and if changes are appropriate, changes will be made.”
While Dee declined to “put a shot clock” on when moves will be made (if at all), he went on to say, “Stay tuned. If it doesn’t turn around, invariably, we’re going to have to make some tough decisions.” Specifically, he was critical of the team’s offensive struggles. When asked if manager Bud Black was getting the most out of the roster, Dee replied by saying that even Black himself would answer “no” to that question, though he declined to place any significant amount of blame on the longtime San Diego skipper, stating “It’s not on Buddy, singularly, it’s on the organization. All of us are disappointed. All of us are accountable. The fanbase deserves more.”
This morning, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports exchanged emails with chairman Ron Fowler, who told him:
“At this time, we will not be discussing our situation with any parties outside of our senior management circle. That said, we are terribly disappointed in the team’s offense this year and staying the course (waiting for a turnaround) is becoming less appealing as the ugly losses continue.”
Rosenthal speculates that hitting coach Phil Plantier might be the one who is in the most immediate danger. The Padres are, after all, last in the Majors in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage, having batted just .216/.275/.344 as a team. Petco Park’s pitcher-friendly setting can’t even be blamed, as the Padres rank last in the Majors with a wRC+ of just 75, and that stat is both park- and league-adjusted. (In other words, Padres hitters have been, as a whole, 25 percent less effective than a league-average hitter, even when adjusting their hitting to account for a pitcher-friendly environment.)
Rosenthal points back to an article from the San Diego Union-Tribune’s Kevin Acee last month, in which Acee suggested that ownership was becoming impatient with Black. Within that piece, Acee noted that while the lack of offense isn’t necessarily Black’s fault, it is his problem. He went on to write that if the team doesn’t look better by season’s end, GM Josh Byrnes would also be a candidate to be replaced.
Rosenthal writes that Black is still among the game’s most respected managers when talking to rival executives, and he could land another managerial job in short order were he to be dismissed in San Diego. Beyond that, Rosenthal writes that roster changes could be on the horizon as well, noting that the team is expected to move multiple veteran pieces prior to the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. He lists Seth Smith, Huston Street, Ian Kennedy and Chris Denorfia as candidates to be shipped out.
Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez had a tumor removed from his left index finger Tuesday, writes Nick Groke of the Denver Post. Head athletic trainer Keith Dugger tells Groke that a biopsy will be performed on what they’re hoping is a benign tumor, adding that such a finding isn’t necessarily uncommon. MLB.com’s Thomas Harding writes that Gonzalez could miss as much as five weeks after having what Dugger described as a “fatty mass with tentacles” removed. Here’s more on the Rox and their division…
- The Rockies have had injury problems of late, with Michael Cuddyer, Jordan Lyles, Eddie Butler, Boone Logan, Nolan Arenado, Tyler Chatwood and Brett Anderson all on the DL (in addition to Gonzalez), but they’re not done with bad news on that front. Groke’s colleague Patrick Saunders reported this morning that top pitching prospect Daniel Winkler is heading for Tommy John surgery. The 24-year-old Winkler — a former 20th-round gem in the draft — had posted a 1.41 ERA with 9.1 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9 in 70 innings at Double-A Tulsa this season.
- ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick spoke with Padres closer Huston Street about the possibility of being traded this summer — a concept that is far from foreign to Street. “I’ll give the same answer I have year after year,” Street told Crasnick. “I have no control over it. I don’t have a no-trade clause, so there’s nothing for me to consider.” Street added that he likes the group in San Diego and doesn’t want to be traded, believing they can win there. Crasnick notes that his $7MM salary and $7MM club option are affordable enough that teams will have interest, but not so steep that the Friars feel they have to move him.
- Dodgers right-hander Chad Billingsley had another setback in his recovery from Tommy John surgery and is expected to be reevaluated by the team doctor, reports Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com. Billingsley recently hit 93 mph in a rehab outing, but he felt weakness in his surgically repaired elbow following a 31-pitch bullpen session yesterday.
Padres fans got some welcome news this evening, as it was announced that Time Warner Cable will begin airing Padres games for the coming season, MLB.com's Corey Brock tweets. As Wendy Thurm of Fangraphs has explained, the failure of Time Warner (and, at the time, AT&T U-verse and DISH Network) to agree to the Fox Sports San Diego subscriber fee not only left many fans without access to games, but put a significant dent in the Friars' expected annual payout. Here's more from San Diego and the rest of the NL West:
- When the Padres inked reliever Joaquin Benoit to a two-year, $14MM deal earlier in the off-season, it raised an immediate question whether he or incumbent Huston Street would close. As Jeff Sanders of the San Diego Union-Tribune writes, both back-end arms are content with the situation and their roles. "[Street] is going to shut the door," said Benoit, "and I'm going to try to give him as many games with leads as I can." For his part, Street — whose deal includes a $7MM club option for 2015 — says that he understands the business side of things and hopes only for success for his new teammate. "It's a smart move on the Padres' part," he said. "It gives them options for 2015. It gives them options if I go down. It gives them options if I struggle."
- After a breakout campaign last year put him in position for a nice payday as a Super Two, Giants first baseman Brandon Belt has yet to reach agreement with his club on a price for his 2014 season. The sides' filing figures ($3.6MM against $2.05MM) are the furthest apart in relative terms among remaining arbitration cases. As Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports, however, it remains likely that a hearing will be avoided, as team and player both recently expressed an expectation that a settlement will be forthcoming.
- Despite adding another rotation arm in Bronson Arroyo, Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers says that top prospect Archie Bradley can still earn a starting spot out of camp, reports FOX Sports Arizona's Jack Magruder. "We want to get out of the gate quick," said Towers. "I've said from the beginning, with Archie, it's not about trying to save a year, save money. We need to win games. If he's ready coming out of the spring and we're a better ballclub with Archie being in it, he's going to be there." Putting the 21-year-old on the MLB roster for Opening Day would mean giving up the ability to extend team control for an extra season, but Towers' statement indicates that is still a real possibility. (On the other hand, given that factor and Bradley's limited seasoning, it will probably be a tall order for him to unseat one of the expected five as a practical matter.) Fellow righty Randall Delgado would likely join the bullpen if he does not earn a turn in the rotation, said Towers, since he is out of options.
- The Arroyo signing has earned mixed reviews; as MLBTR's Charlie Wilmoth opined, for example, the $23.5MM guarantee that he received is a debatable investment in a market that promised Paul Maholm just $1.5MM. One under-the-radar issue with Arroyo, argues Dave Cameron of Fangraphs, is that his pronounced struggles against lefties have been masked somewhat by pitching in a division (the National League Central) that has not featured the volume of left-handed bats to take full advantage of the platoon split. In particular, Cameron says, should the Diamondbacks reach the post-season, Arroyo's achilles heel could significantly impair his usefulness to his new club.
The Diamondbacks are interested in flying to Japan to meet with Masahiro Tanaka, although they have not yet scheduled a meeting, Nick Piecoro of AZCentral.com reports. The Diamondbacks have been connected to Tanaka and other top free-agent starters, although Piecoro notes that it will be tricky for them to outbid the Yankees and other big-market teams for Tanaka's services. Here are more notes from the West divisions.
- The Yankees are the favorites to get Tanaka, but he would provide such a big boost to the Angels' rotation that he could change the complexion of the AL West if he heads to Anaheim, Troy Renck of the Denver Post writes (on Sulia).
- The futures of Padres relievers Joaquin Benoit and Huston Street are intertwined, the San Diego Union-Tribune's Bill Center writes. The Padres have signed Benoit to a two-year deal that pays him $6MM in 2014 and $8MM in 2015, with an $8MM option for 2016 and a $1.5MM buyout. The option vests, however, if Benoit finishes 55 games in 2015, which would only happen if he were the closer for almost the entire season. Street, meanwhile, will be paid $7MM in 2014, with a $7MM option for 2015. Street will close for the Padres in 2014, but it's unclear what will happen after that. "Huston has done it very well for a long time. Benoit has done it for four years. Huston is a pro. Nothing changes here," says Padres GM Josh Byrnes. "We do have a decision for 2015. Nothing is guaranteed for 2015."
Just over a year ago, the Dodgers announced their presence as big-money acquirers by trading for infielder Hanley Ramirez. While Ramirez has battled injury at times, he has certainly re-established himself as a top-line big leaguer with a .315/.367/.544 line to go with 21 home runs and 14 stolen bases in the last year. As ESPN's Mark Saxon explains, Ramirez has seemed energized since donning Dodger blue and has been on fire since returning from a DL stint in early June. He remains under team control for 2014 at a cost of $16MM. On the other hand, the primary piece that Los Angeles shipped out to acquire Ramirez – pitcher Nathan Eovaldi — has been solid so far in Miami. The 23-year-old currently owns a 3.54 ERA in 40 2/3 MLB innings. Here's more out of the NL West..
- The Giants will listen to offers on Hunter Pence, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. At this stage of the season, the club believes that they have to be open to everything. San Francisco certainly likes Pence and wants to keep him long term, but with a lack of offense out there, they could get a very strong return for him. It was recently reported that the Rangers have interest in acquiring Pence.
- Padres stars Chase Headley, Carlos Quentin, and Huston Street are likely to stay in San Diego but it appears that Luke Gregerson will be changing uniforms, writes Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.
- After Gregerson and Chris Denorfia, the Padres getting the most interest are Street, left-handed reliever Joe Thatcher, and outfielder/first baseman Jesus Guzman, writes Bill Center of U-T San Diego.
- The Giants are searching for their identity as the deadline approaches, writes MLB.com's Andrew Owens. Manager Bruce Bochy has instructed his players to tune out the trade rumors between now and July 31st.
Jeff Todd contributed to this post.
3:11pm: MLB.com's Corey Brock writes that the Padres are seeking controllable young pitching in trades, and Gregerson is receiving the most interest from other clubs currently. Gregerson tells Brock that he's not paying attention to the rumors swirling around his name and is just "living for today" and enjoying his time with the Padres.
12:50pm: The Padres are receiving a lot of interest in Luke Gregerson, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. He adds that more teams are calling the Padres about Gregerson than they are about closer Huston Street.
That teams are more interested in Gregerson than Street isn't much of a surprise, given Gregerson's stronger numbers and cheaper price tag. While Street is earning $7MM in 2013 and again in 2014 (with a $7MM club option for 2015), Gregerson is earning just $3.2MM this season after his second year of arbitration eligibility. He will be arb-eligible once more this offseason before hitting free agency in the 2014-15 offseason.
Gregerson, 29, has a 2.98 ERA with 7.9 K/9, 1.9 BB/9 and a 46.7 percent ground-ball rate in 42 1/3 innings this season. He drew significant interest from the Tigers during Spring Training, with Detroit reportedly offering Rick Porcello in exchange for Gregerson (though GM Dave Dombrowski refuted that claim). More recent reports suggest that the Tigers are showing "continued interest" in San Diego's setup man.