Ian Kennedy Rumors

NL West Notes: Tomas, O’Brien, Kennedy, Ottavino

Despite the high-profile signing of Yasmany Tomas this winter, the D-Backs will use him primarily off the bench in his first taste of Major League action, GM Dave Stewart told reporters, including Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. Tomas was promoted today, due in part to a lack of other options on the 40-man roster, Piecoro writes. Arizona had few other position players both healthy and on the 40-man, but despite that fact, Stewart said he didn’t consider transferring injured pitchers Matt Stites or Patrick Corbin to the 60-day disabled list. Stewart feels that each is close enough to being healthy that he didn’t want to risk a move to the 60-day DL. The GM also noted that he has not considered making a trade to alleviate some of his logjam of outfielders.

More on the D-Backs and their division…

  • D-Backs prospect Peter O’Brien will go about a month without playing behind the plate, manager Chip Hale tells MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert. O’Brien will see some time in left field and at first base but is apparently receiving a mental break from catching after developing an issue throwing the ball back to the pitcher late in Spring Training. Clearly, that’s not the type of issue that any team wants to see from a player it has dubbed the “catcher of the future.” Common consensus among scouts and other organizations has been that O’Brien isn’t a good enough defender behind the plate to remain at the position, though he’s certainly hitting well enough to garner some attention early in the year. Through a small sample of 28 plate appearances, O’Brien’s batting .333/.357/.519 with a homer and two doubles. Many felt Arizona should have traded for catching help this offseason, but Stewart stated on multiple occasions that such a move was not the plan, partly because the club believed O’Brien could handle the position eventually.
  • Padres right-hander Ian Kennedy is nearing a rehab assignment, reports MLB.com’s Corey Brock. Kennedy is slated to throw a bullpen session on Friday, and if all goes well, he’ll join a Minor League affiliate and look to throw 75 to 90 pitches in a rehab start. It’s possible that Kennedy will need a couple of rehab outings, though he’d probably prefer to return to the field sooner rather than later. As a pending free agent, Kennedy has quite a bit riding on his 2015 performance.
  • Adam Ottavino has been named the new closer for the Rockies, writes Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post. Manager Walt Weiss wasted little time this season in swapping the hard-throwing 29-year-old and former closer LaTroy Hawkins, who will now pitch in a setup or middle relief role. An effective season as a closer would do wonders for Ottavino in arbitration next offseason, as he’d stand to see a sizable raise from this year’s $1.3MM salary if he can accumulate a year’s worth of saves. Ottavino’s numbers over the past two seasons indicate that he can indeed thrive in the role, as he’s pitched to a 2.97 ERA with 158 strikeouts against 48 walks in 148 2/3 innings dating back to 2013. Of course, as a closer, he’ll be more exposed to lefties, who have given him trouble in the past, but Ottavino tells Saunders that he feels more comfortable against opposite-handed batters after making some adjustments and keeping them in check during Spring Training. Fantasy players, remember that you can keep up with all closer trends and performances by following @closernews on Twitter.

Possible Qualifying Offer Players Who Could Be Dealt

Next year’s free agent market contains plenty of players who could receive qualifying offers — David Price, Jordan Zimmermann, Jason Heyward, and others. Here’s a look at potential qualifying offer recipients who have the best chance of being traded this season, thus preventing them from receiving that designation.

At issue, of course, is draft pick compensation and forfeiture. A team extending a qualifying offer to a player receives a draft pick in return if the player signs elsewhere. The signing team also gives up a draft pick. But a player who has been traded in the season before he becomes a free agent can’t be extended a qualifying offer and thus isn’t attached to draft picks. That can be an important consideration for teams shopping for free agents, as we’ve seen in recent years in the cases of Kyle Lohse, Nelson Cruz, Ervin Santana, Stephen Drew and Kendrys Morales, whose markets have all shrunk in part because of the qualifying offer.

Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake, Reds. The Reds are off to a 4-0 start but still aren’t that likely to contend, which means that Cueto and Leake could hit the free agent market this summer. Trading Cueto, in particular, would be a great way for the Reds to add to their collection of young talent. Leake might be somewhat trickier to trade, since the Reds’ return might not be worth that much more than the draft pick and negotiating leverage they would forgo by dealing him.

Ben Zobrist and Scott Kazmir, Athletics. Billy Beane’s trade for Zobrist this offseason was a somewhat surprising one to begin with. The Athletics could easily contend, but if they don’t, Beane seems unlikely to sit still, and finding a new home for Zobrist wouldn’t be difficult given his versatility. Kazmir is another possibility — if he performs at his 2014 levels, he could receive a qualifying offer if the A’s contend or be traded if they don’t.

Alex Gordon, Royals. The Royals haven’t discussed an extension with Gordon, who would undoubtedly be an attractive trade target if the Royals were to fall out of contention in the AL Central. They’re currently 4-0, however, and there’s still the matter of Gordon’s $12.5MM option. Exercising it would likely not be an optimal financial decision from Gordon’s perspective, but he’s expressed interest in doing so before. If he were to make clear to the Royals that he planned to do so, he almost certainly wouldn’t be a trade candidate.

Justin Upton and Ian Kennedy, Padres. San Diego gambled heavily this offseason on the Padres’ ability to win in 2015. If they don’t, A.J. Preller doesn’t seem like the sort of GM to hang onto two key players who are due to become free agents. One possibility if the Padres were to trade Kennedy or especially Upton would be to acquire big-league talent in return, much like the Red Sox did when they dealt Jon Lester last summer. That would enable the Padres to re-tool for 2016, when they’ll still control most of the players they acquired over the winter.

Yovani Gallardo, Rangers. The Brewers exercised what was effectively a $12.4MM 2015 option ($13MM minus a $600K buyout) before trading Gallardo to Texas. His market value likely is somewhere near the value of a qualifying offer, and extending him one wouldn’t be a bad idea for the Rangers if he performs well this season. They could easily trade him rather than doing that, although that might be somewhat difficult given all the higher-impact starters who might be available and the value that would disappear if the ability to extend Gallardo a qualifying offer were to vanish.

Jeff Samardzija, White Sox. The new-look White Sox are 0-4, and GM Rick Hahn has said he will be “nimble” in turning his attention to the future if the organization’s moves to contend this summer don’t work out. That might mean Samardzija could be traded for the third time in a year. He would likely command significant value on the trade market.

Chris Davis and Matt Wieters, Orioles. Davis and Wieters are worth watching, although it’s somewhat unlikely that they’re valuable enough to receive qualifying offers and that they become trade candidates. Davis had a down season in 2014, while Wieters continues to struggle with health problems (and there’s currently no timetable for his return from an elbow injury). If Davis and Wieters are productive and healthy, the Orioles could well contend, and thus it’s unlikely they’ll be traded. If they aren’t, they might not be qualifying offer candidates.


West Notes: Kennedy, Angels, Alvarez

Here’s the latest out of the game’s western divisions:

  • Padres righty Ian Kennedy is headed to the 15-day DL, as Dennis Lin of theSan Diego Union-Tribune reports. Fortunately, Lin tweets, skipper Bud Black says that Kennedy already has shown improvement and that the team does not believe he’ll be out long. Then there is the fact that, as Jon Morosi of FOX Sports notes on Twitter, San Diego has solid rotation depth and will be comfortable handing the ball off to Odrisamer Despaigne.
  • The fact that the city of Anaheim has a new lead negotiator does not change the Angels‘ stance in stadium talks, MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez reports on Twitter“Why would it change anything?” queried owner Arte Moreno. “We are not negotiating.”
  • The Dodgers have been said to be indeed lining up as top contenders for the services of hyped Cuban hurler Yadier Alvarez. As Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports, president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman has gone to watch Alvarez pitch in the Dominican Republic, where he established residency upon leaving Cuba.


West Notes: Padres, Athletics, Angels

Much of the Padres‘ pitching staff has remained intact this offseason while new GM A.J. Preller built a new offense alongside it, and the team’s returning pitchers are excited, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. “It’s been pretty cool seeing all the moves we made,” says Andrew Cashner. “This is my first year to have a chance to win.” Another Padres starter, Ian Kennedy, still has interest in exploring free agency after the season, but adds that “it’s hard not to notice” that the team has gotten better, in his view, both for 2015 into the future. Here’s more from the West divisions.

  • The Athletics acquired shortstop Yunel Escobar in the Ben Zobrist trade, then quickly shipped him to Washington for Tyler Clippard. Assistant GM David Forst says, however, that the A’s didn’t acquire Escobar with the intention of trading him, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle tweets. The Clippard deal took shape only after the completion of the Zobrist deal.
  • The Angels have improved their farm system in the past several months, Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times writes. That’s not to say their farm system is great — they moved up from last in Baseball America’s organizational rankings in 2013 and 2014 to 27th this year. They did, however, pitchers Andrew Heaney and Nick Tropeano this winter, and drafted three more pitchers, Sean Newcomb, Joe Gatto and Chris Ellis, in June. Since Baseball America’s rankings went to press, the Angels have also added infielders Roberto Baldoquin and Kyle Kubitza. “It’s a better system than it was before,” says BA’s John Manuel. “There are some positive signs.”

Padres Avoid Arbitration With Kennedy, Ross, Alonso

3:24pm: Ross will earn $5.25MM in 2015, reports MLB.com’s Corey Brock (on Twitter). He’d been projected to earn $5.7MM.

2:09pm: The Padres now announce that they’ve avoided arb with all of their eligible players, including Ross (all others had been previously reported). Terms of Ross’ deal are not yet known, other than the fact that it’s a one-year agreement.

1:40pm: Multiple reports indicate that the Padres and right-hander Ian Kennedy have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a $9.85MM salary for 2015, with Mike Perchick of WAPT in New Jersey being the first to report the deal (Twitter link). Kennedy, who is entering his final year of team control prior to free agency, was projected by MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz to earn $10.3MM. Though the righty’s name was oft-mentioned in trade talks, it appears now that he’ll join Andrew Cashner and Tyson Ross atop the club’s rotation.

Perchick also reports that the Padres have avoided arbitration with Yonder Alonso, agreeing to a one-year, $1.65MM pact. Alonso was projected to earn $1.6MM.


Rosenthal On Padres, Upton, Smith, Nats, Haren

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports has updates on a number of situations around the league in his latest pair of columns. Here are some highlights from his most recent work…

  • The Padres are interested in a wide array of hitters, but they’re “all over” Justin Upton, Rosenthal hears. However, now that they’re set to acquire Matt Kemp, the Padres don’t want to trade Andrew Cashner, Ian Kennedy or Tyson Ross, which might make a deal difficult to line up. They could possibly follow the Howie Kendrick-for-Andrew Heaney model and offer six years of a top prospect such as Austin Hedges or Matt Wisler.
  • Seth Smith is drawing interest from the Mariners and Orioles, among other clubs. Trading Smith would be an easier route for the team to take than moving one of Carlos Quentin or Cameron Maybin, neither of whom has much (if any) trade value. The Padres, however, gave Smith assurance that he wouldn’t be dealt this offseason when he signed a two-year, $13MM extension in early July. Then again, that assurance came before GM A.J. Preller had been hired.
  • The Nationals recently offered the Mariners both Jordan Zimmermann and Ian Desmond in exchange for right-hander Taijuan Walker and shortstop Brad Miller, according to Rosenthal. However, the Mariners balked at giving up six years of Walker and five of Miller for just one year of Zimmermann and Desmond at a combined total of $27.5MM. Washington also discussed Zimmermann with the Red Sox.
  • The Marlins could look to trade Dan Haren if he doesn’t want to pitch for them in 2015, Rosenthal tweets. Haren made his preference to pitch on the West coast (specifically near his wife and two young children) clear when he signed with the Dodgers. At the end of the 2013 season, he discussed the difficulty of pitching across the country from his family with Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post, and more recently he said he planned to retire if traded out of the area. Rosenthal notes that the Marlins spoke to Haren the night of the trade, and their preference is for Haren to pitch for their club in 2015. The Angels, who would represent one logical trade partner, given Haren’s geographic preference, have said they won’t be trading for him.

AL East Notes: Yankees, Stubbs, O’s, Marrero

The Yankees aren’t looking into the Padres‘ trio of starters (Andrew Cashner, Tyson Ross and former Yankee Ian Kennedy) right now, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News tweets.  San Diego is known to be listening to offers on the three right-handers but the Yankees aren’t sure any of them are actually available.  Here’s some more from around the AL East…

  • The Rockies contacted the Orioles about a trade that would’ve sent Drew Stubbs to Baltimore in exchange for pitching, MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko reports (Twitter link).  The departures of Nelson Cruz and Nick Markakis has left the O’s thin in the corner outfield spots, with Alejandro De Aza, David Lough and Steve Pearce (who will also see a lot of DH time) as the current candidates.  The right-handed hitting Stubbs seems like a good complement for De Aza and Lough, who both hit left-handed.
  • In an interview with MLB Network Radio yesterday (hat tip to Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun), Orioles executive VP Dan Duquette said he is looking to add catching depth.  Matt Wieters may not be fully recovered from Tommy John surgery in time for Opening Day, so the O’s may pursue a veteran backup to at least share the job with Caleb Joseph.
  • Prospect Deven Marrero makes sense as a trade chip for the Red Sox to offer to teams in need of a young shortstop, though WEEI.com’s Alex Speier reports that the Mets and Athletics have doubts that Marrero can hit enough for an everyday role.

Padres Notes: Kennedy, Cespedes, Shortstop, Ross

With the focus of the baseball world on San Diego this week for the Winter Meetings, here’s the latest on the city’s team:

  • The Padres have discussed a trade with the Red Sox involving Ian Kennedy and Yoenis Cespedes, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Boston, however, feels Cespedes can bring back a pitcher better than Kennedy.
  • Rosenthal also tweets the Padres could match up with Texas to fill their hole at shortstop since the Rangers have a surplus at the position and San Diego GM A.J. Preller knows their system very well.
  • The ultimate prize this offseason for the Padres could be Matt Kemp or Justin Upton, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune’s Dennis Lin. While each player comes with substantial risk (Kemp’s contract and Upton being only a year away from free agency), Lin believes the risk is offset by the Padres’ need to land an impact bat to shore up an offense lacking corner infielders and a shortstop.
  • The interest between the Padres and free agent catcher David Ross is mutual, Lin tweets. The Padres, meanwhile, seem intent on moving a catcher. Ross has been connected to the Cubs and Braves, as well as the Padres.
  • If the Padres swing a trade with the Dodgers, Lin (via Twitter) wonders if left-hander Alex Torres could be involved. Torres has history with both Andrew Friedman and Josh Byrnes.

West Notes: Robertson, Astros, Sandoval, Kennedy

The Astros are known to be seeking relief help and they might be aiming high.  Houston has reached out to Scott Leventhal, the agent for David Robertson, to express interest in the Yankees closer, an industry source told Ken Davidoff of the New York Post.   Still, it’s not known whether the Astros are willing to approach the four-year, ~$52MM deal that Robertson is after.  More from the AL and NL West..

  • Giants vice president Bobby Evans told Jim Bowden of SiriusXM (on Twitter) that they have not made a “final offer” to Pablo Sandoval.  While Evans would not confirm that their offer on the table is a five-year, $95MM deal as its been reported, he implied that it’s accurate (link).
  • The Padres are still receiving inquiries on pitcher Ian Kennedy, according to Corey Brock of MLB.com.  Kennedy is in his final year of arbitration eligibility and Matt Swartz projects that he’ll earn $10.3MM in 2015.
  • If the Rockies don’t upgrade their rotation, they’re in store for another 90-loss season, writes Patrick Saunders of The Denver Post.  The Rockies say they’re focused on developing young talent, but their history of developing pitchers has been awful.  Juan Nicasio, who was designated for assignment last week, is just the latest example of that.
  • While it may seem counter-intuitive, there is some merit to the idea of the Astros paying big money for a top closer, writes Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle.

Trade Notes: Porcello, Ramirez, Upton, Kendrick, Padres

It’s already been a fairly active winter on the trade front, as we’ve seen the Brewers acquire Adam Lind, the D’Backs acquire Jeremy Hellickson, the Tigers acquire Anthony Gose and of course the Cardinals/Braves Jason Heyward blockbuster. All of this has come before the Winter Meetings, so action on the trade front only figures to increase over the next month. Here are some of the latest rumblings from around the league…

  • ESPN’s Buster Olney tweets that in addition to Jordan Zimmermann, Doug Fister and the Reds’ quartet of starters that are rumored to be available (Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos, Mike Leake and Alfredo Simon), Rick Porcello is believed to be attainable in trades. Rival evaluators feel that many players that are set to be free agents a year from now could be had for the right offer. The Tigers, of course, are aiming to contend in 2015, but Porcello is projected by MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz to earn $12.2MM in arbitration and could fetch a nice piece while freeing up some cash for GM Dave Dombrowski to address other areas of need.
  • Olney also hears (Twitter link) that the White Sox‘ asking price on Alexei Ramirez is “steep to the degree that you’d want to be buying in for two to three years.” Ramirez is guaranteed $10MM next season and has a $10MM club option for the 2016 season with a $1MM buyout.
  • The Mariners will surely make a run at either Justin Upton or Evan Gattis, if they haven’t already, according to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Twitter links). O’Brien gets the sense that top prospect Taijuan Walker is not completely off the table in trade talks with Seattle, but it would probably take more than one year of Upton to acquire him.
  • Angels GM Jerry Dipoto tells Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times that he’s had trade discussions regarding Howie Kendrick, but he’s in no way eager to move his second baseman. The Halos entered the offseason thinking they might be able to move Kendrick for a controllable, young rotation option but somewhat surprisingly did so by acquiring Nick Tropeano in the Hank Conger trade. “The only way we would move him is if we become a better club,” Dipoto tells DiGiovanna. “And it would take a heck of a deal for us to feel like we’re a better club by moving Howie.”
  • Though much has been made of the possibility that the Padres could trade Tyson Ross or Andrew Cashner to bolster the club’s offense, the team is now strongly considering hanging onto both pitchers, sources tell MLB.com’s Corey Brock. Interestingly, Brock’s report mentions reported trade interest in Ian Kennedy but does not state that the Friars are similarly likely to hold onto the 29-year-old. Kennedy will be a free agent next winter.