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Ian Kennedy Rumors
The Padres traded Will Venable to the Rangers tonight, but they almost certainly won’t be dealing another pair of potential free agents; Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that right-handers Ian Kennedy and Joaquin Benoit were both claimed on revocable waivers, but trades couldn’t be reached, so the Padres pulled the pair back.
Kennedy, 30, is a free agent at the end of the season and is owed about $2.58MM of his $9.85MM salary through season’s end. The former Yankees/D-Backs hurler has struggled for much of the season, but he’s been a more appealing trade target of late, working to a 2.82 ERA with a 76-to-23 K/BB ratio in 83 innings dating back to June 1. Kennedy’s been very homer-prone this season (1.9 HR/9), but much of that can be attributed to an abnormally high 18.7 percent homer-to-flyball ratio that is well above his career mark of 10.6 percent.
The 38-year-old Benoit has been one of the better late-inning relief arms in the game over the past few seasons, though there are some possible red flags in his game this year. Though Benoit’s pitched to a stellar 2.13 ERA, his strikeout rate (8.2 K/9) and walk rate (3.0 BB/9) have both gone the wrong direction in 2015, and he’s benefited from a likely unsustainable .163 average on balls in play. Nevertheless, his track record and strong bottom-line results led to a claim despite a relatively substantial salary; Benoit is owed $2.1MM of his $8MM salary through season’s end, to say nothing of a $1MM buyout on an $8MM option for the 2016 season (though some teams were probably interested in exercising that option).
While the waiver claims and retractions technically don’t prevent the pair from being traded, it becomes extremely unlikely that either will be moved now. The Padres can put both players on trade waivers for a second time, but the waivers would no longer be revocable at that point. More likely is the possibility that the Padres are impressed enough with Kennedy’s resurgence that they’re eyeing a draft pick as compensation in the event that he signs elsewhere. Heyman notes that rivals don’t view Kennedy as a surefire qualifying offer candidate, but his recent surge should make it worthwhile for the Padres to extend the roughly $16MM one-year offer. I’d expect that Kennedy, a client of Scott Boras, would decline the offer and test the free agent waters.
Ian Kennedy‘s deadline day experience was already stressful enough given the number of rumors swirling around his future with the Padres, but the righty’s day was even more hectic since it marked the birth of his fourth daughter. As he related to reporters (including Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune), Kennedy was originally supposed to go on the paternity list to be present for the birth, but a grounded flight in Miami meant that Kennedy decided to make his scheduled start against the Marlins that night. He wound up pitching well in the Padres’ extra-innings win, allowing two runs in seven innings. Kennedy spent his time on his would-be flight “texting with his wife and periodically checking MLBTradeRumors.com,” so if Kennedy is reading this, thanks for making us part of your big day…and congratulations on your family’s new addition!
Here’s some more from around the NL West…
- The Padres‘ quiet deadline drew some varied reaction around the league, and in another piece from Dennis Lin, he hears from rival officials that the Friars had huge asking prices despite allegedly being in “sell mode.” Some deals seemed close at times, though the Padres then countered with offers that the other team didn’t want to match.
- GM A.J. Preller told reporters (including MLB.com’s Corey Brock) that he doesn’t mind criticism about his team’s lack of notable moves, and that “ultimately we didn’t see value for the moves we wanted to be made at that time.” Preller hinted that the team could be active in the August waiver trade period, and Brock writes that the Padres are expected to keep looking for a shortstop.
- Mike Leake was a perfect deadline acquisition for the Giants, Keith Law of ESPN.com (Insider sub. req’d) writes. The deal not only makes them a win or so better for the regular season, but Leake could potentially pay big dividends in the playoffs. All in all, Law feels that the market undervalued Leake’s impressive skill set.
- Leake, for his part, thought he was getting traded to the AL East and not San Francisco, MLB.com’s Chris Haft tweets.
- Troy Tulowitzki‘s final season with the Rockies and the sequence of events that led to his trade to the Blue Jays is chronicled by Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post.
2:15pm: The Padres have engaged in at least some discussions with the Cubs regarding young infielder Javier Baez, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports. Chicago is said to be pursuing pitching, and we heard last week that they had exchanged ideas with San Diego.
Meanwhile, the Friars seem increasingly likely to hold onto Craig Kimbrel, reports Heyman. The team lost a significant suitor when the Nationals got Jonathan Papelbon, and San Diego has been unable to convince the Yankees to give up shortstop prospect Jorge Mateo in a deal.
11:40am: The Padres continue to explore a wide array of options on this year’s trade market, though they’ve yet to make a move. Multiple reports suggest that the team is still weighing its ultimate approach, perhaps considering major moves while also preparing for a more modest sell-off.
Jayson Stark of ESPN.com hears that rival teams expect San Diego to be “super active” and pursue a “huge deal” of some kind (via ESPN.com’s trade deadline page), with the team said to be considering deals on controllable rotation pieces such as James Shields, Andrew Cashner, and even Tyson Ross.
[RELATED: Rangers Discussing Ross, Cashner With Padres]
The inclusion of those names on the market could even reduce the Phillies’ leverage with regard to Cole Hamels negotiations, executives with other clubs tell Stark. The Phillies, of course, are said to be asking teams with interest to get their bids in on the lefty today.
Meanwhile, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports that Padres GM A.J. Preller could “take a more measured approach” in selling than he did in compiling assets over the winter. San Diego wants “substantive” value in its deals, per the report.
Efforts to move Shields have not resulted in promising offers of yet, says Lin, and he could become an August trade piece. And while San Diego is indeed discussing both Cashner and Ross, it seems hesitant to part with them. There is some belief within the organization that larger-scale moves could wait for the winter.
The club does still appear likely to move its short-term assets, per the Union-Tribune. There is still at least some possibility, though, that it will hold onto Justin Upton and make him a qualifying offer, with talks not yet having produced a substantial enough return, though it seems rather likely that something with come together on the slugger. Other pieces fairly likely to be dealt include Ian Kennedy, Joaquin Benoit, and Will Venable.
The Padres are “pushing hard” to trade big-name stars, executives from other teams tell Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Obviously, Justin Upton, Will Venable and Ian Kennedy are clear trade candidates, since those players are due to become free agents after the season. But James Shields, Andrew Cashner and Craig Kimbrel, who all are controlled beyond 2015, have also come up very frequently in talks, according to Heyman. Other possibilities include Tyson Ross, who’s due for free agency after 2017, and Joaquin Benoit, whose contract contains a club option for 2015.
This isn’t the first time that any of these players have been mentioned in trade talks, of course, but rival executives now seem to think the Padres could be even more active at the deadline than had previously been anticipated. Given how aggressively GM A.J. Preller remade the team last offseason, it would come as little surprise if he were itching to make another round of big trades in the midst of what’s turned into a disappointing season.
Heyman adds that another potential motivation for the Padres to make trades could be to reduce payroll. (ESPN’s Buster Olney wrote earlier today that the Padres were feeling “pressure” to shed payroll beyond 2015 by making trades.) Via Cot’s Contracts, the Padres had an Opening Day payroll of about $108MM this season, about $17MM more than their 2014 figure. Trading someone like Shields, whose contract is backloaded, would help the Padres reduce their already significant payroll obligations for 2016 and beyond.
The starting pitching market appears to be in flux, with numerous buyers reportedly considering an array of options and a variety of potential sellers weighing whether to deal away impact arms. Here are the latest rumors on the rotation front:
- The Royals are interested in both Johnny Cueto of the Reds and Yovani Gallardo of the Rangers, as well as other arms, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports on Twitter. Both, obviously, would be pure rental pieces, and we’ve mostly heard of Kansas City connected to half-year contracts. The club’s level of need certainly went up with the loss of Jason Vargas, though it’s unclear whether that will prompt any effort to add more than one pitcher.
- Some rival executives believe that the Braves are willing to deal Julio Teheran, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. But an Atlanta source indicates that the team sees too much upside in the young righty (and his reasonably-priced extension) to consider such a move. Teheran, 24, has not matched his excellent results over the prior two seasons, but it does seem hard to imagine the club selling low on him unless president of baseball operations John Hart is just not a believer in his future.
- Rosenthal also addresses the possibility of the Tigers dealing David Price, noting that the team is unlikely to retain him beyond this year if it doesn’t. If and when Detroit puts him on the market, some of the most obviously starting pitching buyers — the Dodgers, Cubs, Blue Jays, and Astros — would have interest, per the report.
- The Padres are not only all ears on outfielder Justin Upton, but are “listening … intently” on soon-to-be free agent starter Ian Kennedy, tweets Jayson Stark of ESPN.com. Meanwhile, rival executives say that San Diego would “love” to find a taker for righty James Shields. Given that we’ve also heard suggestions that the Padres are holding conversations regarding Tyson Ross and Andrew Cashner, it would appear that the club is considering a variety of possible scenarios involving its staff.
Full Story | 119 Comments | Categories: Andrew Cashner | Atlanta Braves | Chicago Cubs | Cincinnati Reds | David Price | Detroit Tigers | Houston Astros | Ian Kennedy | James Shields | Johnny Cueto | Julio Teheran | Kansas City Royals | Los Angeles Dodgers | San Diego Padres | Texas Rangers | Toronto Blue Jays | Tyson Ross | Yovani Gallardo
In his latest column at GammonsDaily.com, legendary journalist Peter Gammons writes that while we often get caught up in the fascination of which big names will be dealt, the best moves oftentimes look incremental at first glance. The Cubs’ acquisition of Jake Arrieta in 2013’s Scott Feldman trade wasn’t one of the most notable moves that year, but it’s been a coup for Chicago. Likewise, the three-team deal that sent Jose Iglesias to Detroit, Avisail Garcia/Frankie Montas to the White Sox and Jake Peavy to Boston was notable, but the impact of the deal looks far greater now than it did at the time. The Indians’ acquisition of Corey Kluber from the Padres in a three-team deal that sent Jake Westbrook to St. Louis and Ryan Ludwick to San Diego didn’t look particularly exciting, either, and the Giants have had huge success with additions like Javier Lopez and Marco Scutaro. All are good examples to keep in mind when looking at any trade that occurs over the next 11 days.
Some highlights from the rumors and rumblings that Gammons hears as the trade deadline nears…
- The Red Sox were optimistic coming out of the break, but their offensive woes through two games have the team wondering about selling pieces of value from the big league roster. At the same time, however, the Sox haven’t ruled out Johnny Cueto or Cole Hamels. A Cueto acquisition seems particularly contradictory, given his status as a rental. However, Gammons notes that the Sox have considered the move, thinking that he could help them make a run and that a rental might give them an inside edge on signing him in free agency. Gammons is the second journalist to mention this today, as WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford offered a similar take earlier.
- The Padres were taking bids on pending free agents during the All-Star break, but they’re wondering if improved pitching can carry them into relevancy late in the year. The Padres had an ERA over 4.00 as a team each month but are sitting at 2.93 through 113 2/3 July innings. It’s a small sample, of course, but the team’s talented rotation has underperformed for much of the year. (A suspect defensive alignment can’t have helped matters, of course.)
- The Reds are the “primary seller to watch,” says Gammons, and as one GM points out, it’ll be somewhat unfamiliar territory for the club. “It’s not easy for them,” the GM told Gammons. “Walt Jocketty has been so successful over the years, he hasn’t had much experience with the sell mode. [Owner Bob] Castellini has been reluctant to pack it in.”
- The Red Sox may have at one point discussed Cueto, but Gammons writes that the Astros are presently willing to rent the Cincinnati ace. The Royals could be in that boat as well, he adds.
- Jeff Samardzija is another big rental name on the market, and while the White Sox are hesitant to sell, they expect him to test free agency and know that the Astros and Blue Jays are willing to rent. Gammons adds that the Blue Jays, in particular, have also expressed interest in both Ian Kennedy of the Padres and Mike Leake of the Reds.
- The Dodgers make the most sense for Hamels, and while multiple reports have indicated that they won’t part with Corey Seager or Julio Urias, Gammons hears that they may be hesitant to move prospects in their next tier. Los Angeles is reluctant to part with either right-hander Jose De Leon or catcher Austin Barnes, per Gammons. An NL GM called Phillies president-in-waiting Andy MacPhail a “cautious, prudent trader” and noted that unlike Samardzija, Cueto, Leake, Kennedy and Scott Kazmir, Hamels doesn’t have to be traded right now.
- The Royals, Nationals, Cubs, Mets, Yankees and Pirates are all in the mix for Ben Zobrist at this time.
- Another GM told Gammons that there are “at least 16 teams” that are pursuing bullpen help. The Braves‘ Jim Johnson is drawing quite a bit of interest, with the Blue Jays and Red Sox among the teams to reach out to Atlanta for the purpose of inquiry.
Full Story | 20 Comments | Categories: Austin Barnes | Ben Zobrist | Boston Red Sox | Chicago Cubs | Chicago White Sox | Cincinnati Reds | Cole Hamels | Houston Astros | Ian Kennedy | Jeff Samardzija | Johnny Cueto | Jose De Leon | Kansas City Royals | Los Angeles Dodgers | Mike Leake | New York Mets | New York Yankees | Oakland Athletics | Philadelphia Phillies | Pittsburgh Pirates | San Diego Padres | Toronto Blue Jays | Washington Nationals
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports kicks off his weekly Inside Baseball column by reporting that the Dodgers have “quietly continued having dialogue with the Phillies” regarding Cole Hamels. The Dodgers are also giving serious consideration to the rental market and prioritizing Johnny Cueto over others among such targets. The Dodgers “appear determined” to land a top-of-the-rotation arm to pair with Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke, writes Heyman, but most executives think they’ll hold onto top prospects Corey Seager and Julio Urias. The Dodgers have a deep farm system beyond that pairing (righty Jose De Leon has recently been ranked a Top 25 prospect by Baseball America and ESPN), and one exec tells Heyman that the Phillies’ asking price on Hamels has become “more reasonable” recently. The Dodgers feel that Greinke is a lock to opt out of his contract at the end of the season, and while they could possibly re-sign him by adding a year or two to the deal and upping his $24.5MM AAV, Hamels would provide insurance should Greinke sign elsewhere. Jeff Samardzija is also a consideration for the Dodgers, but while they like him, they consider him more of a No. 2/3 starter and don’t love him.
Some more highlights from Heyman’s article, though the synopsis won’t cover everything within the piece, so I’d highly recommend reading it in its entirety…
- The Braves will be deadline sellers, Heyman hears, with Jim Johnson, Juan Uribe and Cameron Maybin among the players that will be available to interested teams. Chris Johnson, too, continues to be available, but there are no takers for his contract, which Atlanta has aggressively tried to move in the past.
- With the Reds expected to trade so many veterans to other clubs, many in the industry expect the team to make a run at extending Todd Frazier beyond his current two-year deal, Heyman writes. (Frazier has one more year of arbitration following his current pact.) Jeff Todd and I have discussed Frazier’s situation on the MLBTR Podcast in the past (and will do so again this afternoon), and I’ve personally taken the stance that given the significant commitments to Joey Votto and Homer Bailey, the Reds could have a difficult time affording Frazier, whose 2014-15 breakout has hugely inflated his price tag. Given the lack of impact bats on the trade market, Frazier would net a king’s ransom and could rapidly expedite the rebuilding process, though the PR hit of trading him with so much control and on the heels of a Home Run Derby victory would of course be significant.
- In other Reds news, Heyman hears Mike Leake‘s ground-ball tendencies are appealing to AL East clubs, and he’s drawn interest from the Blue Jays, Orioles and Red Sox in addition to the Royals, Dodgers, Rangers, Cubs and Giants. Manny Parra and Marlon Byrd are both “likely to go” as well.
- Asked about the possibility of signing with the Cubs this offseason due to his relationship with skipper Joe Maddon, Tigers ace David Price replied, “Wherever I play baseball next year it’s not going to be because of a manager.”
- The Astros are interested in both Cueto and Leake, and Houston seems willing to deal from its glut of MLB-ready outfield prospects, including Domingo Santana and Preston Tucker. (Previous reports have indicated they’re reluctant to part with Brett Phillips, however, who may be the best among the outfield bunch.)
- The Brewers are now showing a willingness to trade both Carlos Gomez and Jean Segura, Heyman hears. Though it was previously believed they were reluctant to move Segura, the emergence of Orlando Arcia (the younger brother of the Twins’ Oswaldo Arcia) may have changed Milwaukee’s thinking. However, Arcia himself is also drawing a huge amount of trade interest, and the Padres have called to express interest. One NL exec called him the best player he’s seen in the minors this year, while another comped him to Francisco Lindor, but said Arcia is better. Regarding Segura, Heyman hears that the Mets dislike his free-swinging approach.
- The Twins aren’t closed off to the idea of re-acquiring Gomez from the Brewers, but their primary focus at this point is bullpen help.
- The Mets are aiming high in their pursuit of an outfield bat and have both Gomez and Justin Upton on their radar. They’re not likely to add Aramis Ramirez from the Brewers unless they receive bad news on the prognosis of David Wright. They also have little interest in swinging a deal for Uribe.
- Padres officials insist that they haven’t determined their course of action heading into the deadline, but Heyman writes that free-agents-to-be such as Upton, Ian Kennedy, Joaquin Benoit and Will Venable could be traded regardless. James Shields‘ backloaded contract limits his value, but one GM felt Benoit has “big value” and Heyman notes that Craig Kimbrel would be in huge demand as well, should the Padres try to recoup some value from that deal.
- Cueto, Samardzija and Leake are atop the Blue Jays‘ wish list, and the team was also in talks with the Braves regarding Jason Grilli prior to his season-ending injury. A top starting pitcher is Toronto’s top priority at this point, says Heyman. He also adds that there’s no evidence to suggest that manager John Gibbons is on the hot seat.
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The Angels were first linked to Ben Revere in trade rumors in May but the rumors almost became a reality. Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports that the Phillies and Angels came close a few weeks ago on a trade that would’ve sent Revere to Anaheim for right-hander Trevor Gott. The Phils thought the deal was done but the Halos “pulled out of the deal at the last minute and tried to redirect the Phillies toward a starting pitching prospect.” Talks fell through after that. Here’s some more from Cafardo’s weekly notes column, with a particular focus on news from Toronto…
- Ian Kennedy has a 2.31 ERA over his last six starts and the Padres right-hander has begun to generate some trade interest in his services. Kennedy had an ugly 7.15 ERA over his first eight starts and owns a 4.86 ERA for the season, though his peripherals (8.51 K/9, 3.04 K/BB rate, 3.74 xFIP, 3.70 SIERA) are are pretty solid, aside from a 22.1% homer rate that more than double his career average. Kennedy is a free agent this winter and would be a natural trade chip for San Diego if the Friars decided to sell.
- Cole Hamels has publicly said he’s willing to consider deals to any team but is reportedly unlikely to waive his no-trade clause if he’s dealt to the Astros or Blue Jays. Cafardo wonders if Hamels would remain adamant against a move to Houston or Toronto, however, if those were the only deals on the table and his only avenues away from the rebuilding Phillies.
- Attracting free agents north of the border has long been an issue for the Blue Jays, as Cafardo cites higher taxes, customs delays and the Rogers Centre’s artificial surface as factors that can sometimes make Toronto a tough sell. (Josh Donaldson and Jose Reyes both praised their city, though Reyes admitted he isn’t a fan of the turf.) The bigger problem for the Jays, however, is that they have barely contended since their last playoff appearance in 1993. “It just seems GM Alex Anthopoulos has to go through corporate layers to OK big expenditures, slowing the process considerably,” Cafardo writes. “Players always want to know that their ownership is doing all it can to produce a winner.”
- Braves closer Jason Grilli is one of the Blue Jays‘ targets as the team looks for bullpen help. Grilli would cost less in both salary and trade chips than Jonathan Papelbon or Francisco Rodriguez, two closers who have also been connected to the Jays this summer. Atlanta isn’t yet looking to move Grilli, however, as the team is still in the race.
- Other have asked the Blue Jays about several players in trade talks, including young talent like Miguel Castro, Daniel Norris, Roberto Osuna, Kevin Pillar, Dalton Pompey, Aaron Sanchez and Devon Travis.
- “Every indication is that” R.A. Dickey is in his last year with the Blue Jays, as the team will either use their $1MM buyout of Dickey’s $12MM club option for 2016 or Dickey may just retire. The 40-year-old knuckleballer had a tough start today against the Tigers and now owns a 5.02 ERA over 107 2/3 innings this season.
- Jeff Samardzija “may be the first starting pitcher moved ahead of the trading deadline” since “scouts are constantly at his games,” Cafardo writes. The White Sox aren’t ready to start selling yet, but they’ll find a strong market for Samardzija’s services that includes the Royals, Astros and Tigers. (Cafardo cited several more teams in the Samardzija market in his column last week.
- “Nobody knows what the Red Sox are going to do because they don’t know what they’re going to do,” one NL executive said. Boston has played modestly better as of late, winning 10 of its last 16 games, though the Sox are still just 38-45 on the season. Koji Uehara is cited by the executive as one of “a few players teams would want” if the Red Sox decided to start selling. The team is known to be looking for young pitching on the trade market.
Full Story | 22 Comments | Categories: Aaron Sanchez | Atlanta Braves | Ben Revere | Boston Red Sox | Chicago White Sox | Cole Hamels | Dalton Pompey | Daniel Norris | Detroit Tigers | devon travis | Houston Astros | Ian Kennedy | Jason Grilli | Jeff Samardzija | Kansas City Royals | Koji Uehara | Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim | Miguel Castro | Newsstand | Philadelphia Phillies | R.A. Dickey | Roberto Osuna | San Diego Padres | Toronto Blue Jays
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.
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.
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