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- Denard Span Possibly Out For Season
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Ike Davis Rumors
Athletics first baseman Ike Davis will undergo season-ending hip labrum surgery, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports (Twitter links). The left-handed hitter was acquired from the Pirates over the offseason in deal that included a swap of international bonus pool slots.
Davis, 28, got off to a solid start this year but saw his production fade. He also missed some time with a quad strain. All told, he owns a .229/.301/.350 slash with three home runs, falling well shy of his career .748 OPS output.
Last August, Troy Tulowitzki underwent a procedure to repair his hip labrum and was able to return for a full spring. While it’s impossible to know whether the two players are in equivalent situations, that precedent at least provides reason to believe that Davis may be able to do the same.
But it’s far from clear that Davis will be back in Oakland, even though he is arbitration eligible for the final time in 2016. He’ll be working off of a $3.8MM salary this year, making him a reasonably significant investment through the arb process. If Davis wasn’t already a likely non-tender candidate, the surgery (and lack of opportunity to improve his numbers down the stretch) could push him onto the open market.
Davis will earn $3.8MM, per Chris Cotillo of SB Nation (Twitter link), which falls shy of the $4.4MM he was projected to take home by MLBTR and contributor Matt Swartz. Of course, that may go some way in explaining the deal, as Oakland may not have been interested in tendering him if it was unable to lock in its price.
Rodriguez’s deal is for $635K, MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes reports on Twitter. The 30-year-old righty saw a good bit of action with the Astros over 2011-12, but only resurfaced at the MLB level last year after missing a year due to Tommy John surgery. He was dominant in 45 2/3 Triple-A frames, and put up good results in limited MLB action as well.
After acquiring lefty first baseman Ike Davis from the Pirates, the Athletics are fielding calls on lefties Brandon Moss, Josh Reddick and John Jaso, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The Blue Jays have reportedly asked the A’s about the now-healthy Jaso, with the Athletics showing interest in lefty starter Sean Nolin. (The Jays already have Dioner Navarro and Josh Thole to back up Russell Martin at catcher, although Navarro hopes to be traded.) The Athletics also have keen interest in finding a shortstop, given the likely departure of Jed Lowrie to free agency.
Seen in this context, the Athletics’ acquisition of Davis, who cost them only the rights to $270K in international spending, might mostly be an insurance policy in case they trade someone else. If the Athletics don’t deal another player, Slusser writes, they could non-tender Davis. Reddick (who boasts an above-average bat and a good corner outfield glove) and Moss (who’s a liability defensively but who has had three straight seasons of over 20 home runs) would appear to have significant trade value.
The A’s have acquired first baseman Ike Davis from the Pirates for international bonus slot money, tweets Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. The A’s and Pirates have both tweeted confirmation of the trade, which also includes a swap of international bonus slots: the Pirates receiving the A’s first slot ($501.9K) in exchange for their third slot ($232K). The Pirates will net $269.9K in the swap of bonus slots (figures courtesy of Baseball America’s Ben Badler). To create room on the 40-man roster, the A’s have designated outfielder Andrew Brown for assignment.
Slusser tweets acquiring Davis, who was designated for assignment by the Pirates on Thursday, is a depth move and not an indication the A’s are preparing to deal any of their first basemen. The trade comes less than a week after Oakland signed Billy Butler to a three-year, $30MM free agent contract. The 40-man roster logjam at DH/first base now include the aforementioned Davis and Butler plus Brandon Moss, John Jaso, Stephen Vogt, Kyle Blanks, and Nate Freiman. With this surplus, Slusser notes the A’s now have the flexibility to make a deal if they are overwhelmed by an offer.
Davis struggled to start 2014 with just five hits, including one home run, in 30 plate appearances before being dealt by the Mets to the Pirates in April. The 27-year-old fared slightly better in Pittsburgh slashing .235/.343/.378 with ten home runs in 397 plate appearances. Davis is projected by MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz to earn $4.4MM in his second time through arbitration.
The A’s claimed Brown off waivers from the Mets on Halloween. The 30-year-old produced a .182/.245/.341 slash with the Mets in 49 plate appearances. Brown has spent parts of four MLB seasons with the Mets, Rockies and Cardinals compiling a batting line of .220/.281/.390 in 362 trips to the plate.
Davis came over to Pittsburgh from the Mets after New York finally gave up on a player who was once thought to be a franchise cornerstone. Things started out well in his new home, but Davis ultimately ended up with a .235/.343/.378 slash and ten home runs over 397 plate appearances with the Bucs.
For a player who swatted 32 long balls in his age-25 season, that was obviously not what he hoped for. With Pedro Alvarez likely shifting across the diamond, there was no roster space for Davis.
Still just 27, Davis will undoubtedly get another look. But at a projected $4.4MM arbitration salary, it seems reasonably likely — though far from certain — that he will clear waivers and find his next home on the open market.
Cabrera, meanwhile, was brought into the fold on a waiver claim in August. He only had time to play 12 games in the Pittsburgh system. On the year, in total, Cabrera saw 480 plate appearances at Double-A and slashed .273/.325/.364.
Teams have until December 2 at 11:59pm ET to decide which of their arbitration-eligible players they’ll tender contracts. By MLBTR’s reckoning, about 40 of those players are non-tender candidates, including two first basemen, Ike Davis and Gaby Sanchez, who platooned at the position for the Pirates in 2014.
Davis is projected to make $4.4MM in 2015 after earning $3.5MM last season. Sanchez, meanwhile, is projected to make $2.7MM, a raise from $2.3MM. Those costs wouldn’t be exorbitant for any team, even the low-payroll Pirates, but after another somewhat disappointing season from Davis and an off year for Sanchez, it’s worth asking whether the Pirates’ money might best be spent elsewhere.
Perhaps just as important for Davis is the fact that Pedro Alvarez now appears to be a first baseman. The former No. 2 overall pick struggled with throws from third base in 2014, while utilityman Josh Harrison had an unexpectedly outstanding season and staked a claim on a starting job, which will likely end up being at third. GM Neal Huntington has said that Alvarez will likely get the bulk of the playing time at first base, and he called keeping Davis “probably a challenge.” Alvarez and Davis both bat left-handed, so they can’t share a position. Davis has been working out in the outfield this offseason, but there’s probably no space on the Pirates’ roster there, either, since the Pirates already have a top young lefty outfielder in Gregory Polanco and another reasonably strong one in Travis Snider.
It’s still possible that the Pirates could trade Davis, who could theoretically have a bit of value for a team in need of a lefty first base option. But Davis will be more expensive through arbitration than he was in 2014, when he had a .233/.343/.378 season that qualified as a modest disappointment. The trade that brought Davis to Pittsburgh early in the 2014 season didn’t cost the Pirates much (a minor league reliever in Zack Thornton and a young pitching prospect in Blake Taylor), and it’s unlikely the Bucs could get more than that if they traded Davis now. It’s also obvious that, unless they trade Alvarez, the Pirates don’t have space for Davis on their roster. So there’s little incentive for interested teams to do anything but wait until the deadline for the Pirates to cut him loose.
Sanchez is right-handed and has had a reputation as a strong hitter against lefties, so Alvarez’s move to first base doesn’t impact Sanchez the way it impacts Davis. Given Sanchez’s declining performance, however, the Pirates could decide to allocate resources elsewhere. Sanchez hit .229/.293/.385 last season. He was better against lefties, at .256/.318/.429, but perhaps not so well as to justify the expense and the roster spot, especially given that the NL Central is thin on left-handed pitching. Sanchez is a career .291/.382/.481 hitter against southpaws, but at 31, his 2014 performance might be closer to his expected level going forward.
Like Davis, Sanchez has little or no trade value. So the Pirates’ best option might be to non-tender him and save money to spend elsewhere. The Bucs could then look for a cheaper Triple-A slugger to platoon with Alvarez (who, like Davis, can certainly use a good platoon partner). They could also employ some more creative arrangement like having Tony Sanchez, who dabbled as a first baseman late last season at Triple-A Indianapolis, break camp as a righty first base option and third catcher. They could also attempt to bring Gaby Sanchez back for less than $2.7MM.
Davis, who is represented by Octagon, should still be able to land a big-league deal somewhere — his 10 homers last season weren’t anything to write home about, but .343 on-base percentages don’t grow on trees, and Davis is still just 27 (28 in March). The Marlins already have a lefty first baseman in Garrett Jones, but they reportedly like Davis and could have interest if he becomes a free agent. The Padres could also be a possibility, although it’s questionable whether they’ll see Davis as an upgrade over incumbent lefty first baseman Yonder Alonso.
Sanchez, who is represented by Beverly Hills Sports Council, would be a good fit (on a cheap Major League deal or minor league deal with an out clause) for a team looking for a partner for their lefty first baseman. St. Louis, where Matt Adams has a career .197/.227/.326 line against lefties, could be one possibility. A reunion with the Marlins, and with either Davis or Jones (who platooned with Sanchez in Pittsburgh in 2013) could make sense also.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
First baseman Adam LaRoche would like to stay with the Nationals, Chase Hughes of Nats Insider writes. “If it was up to me, I’m signing a deal with D.C. that puts me there for the rest of my career,” says LaRoche. The Nationals are expected to pay LaRoche a $2MM buyout rather than picking up their end of a $15MM option, and with Ryan Zimmerman likely to play first base next season, it’s unlikely the Nats will retain LaRoche even for a smaller amount. Nonetheless, LaRoche, coming off a .259/.362/.455 season, will likely attract significant interest on the free agent market. Here are more notes from the East divisions.
- The Marlins might have interest in Pirates first baseman Ike Davis, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News writes. The Marlins already have another former Pirates first baseman, Garrett Jones, under contract for 2015, but Jones is 33 and coming off a second consecutive near-replacement-level season. The Pirates, meanwhile, may want Pedro Alvarez (who suffered from serious throwing issues at third base in 2014) to play first in 2015, which would leave nowhere for Davis, particularly since he and Alvarez are both left-handed. The Bucs could deal or non-tender Davis this offseason.
- After a terrific season in 2014, Nelson Cruz has a big contract coming his way, but whether the Orioles should be the team to pay it is questionable, MASNsports.com’s Steve Melewski writes. The O’s plan to extend Cruz a qualifying offer, and they’ll get a draft pick if another team signs him. Also, Cruz is in his mid-30s and is coming off a great season, so it’s possible whichever team signs him won’t get much bang for their buck as Cruz declines over the next few years. Cruz has said he wants to remain in Baltimore, but the Orioles sound skeptical about keeping him.
After covering some Cubs Notes earlier today, let’s take a look around the rest of the NL Central…
- The Blue Jays haven’t shown any interest in Brewers second baseman Rickie Weeks since they’re looking to land a better defender at the keystone, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports. (Similar defensive concerns were also the reason for Toronto’s lack of interest in Daniel Murphy, as Heyman reported over the weekend.) Weeks is hitting .263/.344/.463 in 90 PA against left-handed pitching this season, and would make sense on paper for a Jays team that is need of both second base help and a right-handed bat.
- The Cardinals are open to acquiring a second or third baseman and have also considered adding a “complement upgrade” for their lineup, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. Padres outfielder Seth Smith is cited by Goold as an example of the type of complementary player the Cards are discussing, though Smith himself isn’t necessarily being targeted by the team. If the Cardinals do add a 2B or 3B, Matt Carpenter would play the other position.
- The Pirates‘ trade for Ike Davis is over two months old, and Tim Rohan of the New York Times checks in to see how both the Bucs and Mets have progressed since the deal. The Mets have been very pleased by how Lucas Duda is hitting as the new regular first baseman, and while Davis hasn’t been hitting quite as well (.250/.359/.364 in 217 PA as a Pirate), he mentioned in a recent WFAN interview that he enjoys playing for a team that expects to contend.
The Cardinals are currently determining how to find big-league playing time for top outfield prospect Oscar Taveras, Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes. “I actually think from a baseball standpoint he could play in the big leagues,” says GM John Mozeliak. “But we’ve got to determine playing time up here with the current roster. Are we at a point where we’re willing to take away at-bats from the current roster and give them to somebody else?” If the Cardinals were to promote Taveras to play regularly, they would have less playing time for some combination of Allen Craig, Matt Adams, Peter Bourjos and Jon Jay. Taveras is currently hitting .319/.369/.527 in 198 plate appearances for Triple-A Memphis. Here are more notes from the National League.
- While the Cardinals don’t have playing time for their Triple-A outfield talent right now, Strauss writes that they simply don’t have as much Triple-A pitching talent as they’ve had in recent years. Of course, that’s mostly because they’ve graduated so many talented pitchers in the past few seasons, including Michael Wacha, Shelby Miller, Carlos Martinez, Trevor Rosenthal, Kevin Siegrist, and Seth Maness. If the Cardinals want to add another strong pitching option this season, Strauss argues, they’ll have to do it via a trade.
- There are rumors that the Padres could fire manager Bud Black, but Tom Krasovic of the San Diego Union-Tribune suggests that it might be worth remembering GM Josh Byrnes’ history firing his manager when he was the GM of the Diamondbacks. In 2009, Byrnes fired Bob Melvin and replaced him with A.J. Hinch. Melvin had a terrific third act as manager of the Athletics, and both Byrnes and Hinch were fired a little more than a year later. Like Byrnes, Hinch is now in the Padres’ front office.
- Now that first baseman Ike Davis is hitting, life with the Pirates is different than it was with the Mets, MLB.com’s Tim Healey reports. “Going to get coffee, I don’t get hitting tips,” says Davis. “I don’t know if that’s a good or bad thing. But I don’t need to think about my stance at 9 in the morning.” Davis is back in New York as the Pirates play at Citi Field this week.
Ike Davis will return to Citi Field Monday, but the Pirates‘ first baseman isn’t concerned about his return to Queens, MLB.com’s Tom Singer writes. “Truth is, it’s not something big to me,” Davis says. “Just gotta do it, go and try to beat the Mets.” After a rough ending to his career in New York, Davis has played well since the Mets traded him in mid-April for reliever Zack Thornton and a PTBNL — he’s hitting .295/.391/.421 so far for Pittsburgh. Here are more notes from around the National League.
- Cubs infielder Mike Olt is a fan of new Triple-A Iowa player/coach Manny Ramirez, Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune writes. The two played together last season at Triple-A Round Rock in the Rangers organization, but the connection goes back further than that — Olt says Ramirez tossed him a ball when an 11-year-old Olt was sitting in the upper deck at Yankee Stadium and Ramirez was playing outfield for the Red Sox. Olt says Ramirez remembered the incident, since he doesn’t usually throw balls into the stands.
- Reds outfield prospect Phillip Ervin attributes his struggles in 2014 to self-imposed pressure after being a first-round pick and receiving a $1.8MM bonus last season, C. Trent Rosecrans writes for Baseball America. Ervin, 21, is hitting .209/.271/.302 in 203 plate appearances for Class A Dayton, a level at which he hit well in a handful of games near the end of last season. “You want to just impress people, put up the numbers for the fans, and you always hear stuff,” says Ervin. “I feel like sometimes I try to do too much just to keep other people happy rather than just go out and have fun.”