Jacob Turner Rumors

NL Notes: Turner, Dodgers, Axford, Phillies

Cubs righty Jacob Turner has been shut down after his elbow “flared up,” president of baseball operations Theo Epstein told reporters, including ESPNChicago.com’s Jesse Rogers (Twitter link). Turner had made two promising rehab starts at Double-A, and was looking like a possible rotation or pen option in the near term for Chicago. The club claimed the former top prospect off waivers last year from the Marlins and exercised his $1MM option for 2015.

Here’s more from the National League:

  • Despite their recent offensive woes, the Dodgers see the acquisition of bats as a “lower priority” to adding arms to the rotation, president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman told reporters, including Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times. Friedman says he sees reason to believe that the club’s run production will get back on track, and also likes that the organization has several relievers advancing back from injuries. The rotation, though, looks somewhat thin at the back end. While the team may still get some innings out of Brandon Beachy, who is working back through a rehab stint, it is currently relying on Mike Bolsinger and Carlos Frias, both of whom have struggled to continue their surprisingly excellent work from earlier in the year.
  • Rockies righty John Axford has put up strong results for the club, and Nick Groke of the Denver Post writes that he could either become a useful trade piece or be looked at as an asset to be retained. Axford comes with one more year of control via arbitration, effectively providing the club an option year, though he’ll figure to be in line for a nice raise on his $2.6MM salary this year as he continues to rack up saves. Groke notes the possibility of an extension, and club GM Jeff Bridich says that “moving ahead with Axford for future seasons is something we would at least consider.” From my perspective, the smarter play would be to see what Axford will fetch on the trade market and tender him a contract if a strong offer can’t be found. He has been quite good, even if peripherals don’t quite support his 1.31 ERA, with a career-best 60.7% groundball rate that is surely particularly attractive to the club. But extending a reliever is always risky business, particularly when the name in question is 32 years old and has a track record of inconsistent results.
  • When he formally joins the Phillies, reported new executive Andy MacPhail could spend some time evaluating the baseball operations department before deciding whether to make any changes or additions to the front office, MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki reports. One possibility, per a source, would be for MacPhail to try to bring on Angels assistant GM Matt Klentak in some capacity. The young executive got his start with the Orioles when MacPhail was in charge there. Klentak was a guest on the MLBTR Podcast’s third episode, back in October.

NL Notes: Turner, Reds, D’Backs, Mets

Cubs righty Jacob Turner will likely not return to action for another spring game, MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat reports, but medical review after he experienced elbow discomfort revealed no ligament damage. “I’m just going to see how it feels,” said Turner. “The plan is four to six weeks of not throwing, and then go off how I feel.” Given his lack of options, I would expect the club to bring him along quite slowly — possibly utilizing a 60-day DL stay to free a roster spot.

Meanwhile, here are some roster situations percolating elsewhere in the National League:

  • We noted earlier today that Tony Cingrani is destined for the Reds pen. John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer discusses the implications of that move for the team’s rotation battle. Another candidate — David Holmberg — was bumped down to minor league camp, leaving the relatively inexperienced Raisel Iglesias and Anthony DeSclafani to fight veteran non-roster invitees Jason Marquis and Paul Maholm for two permanent spots (and a temporary substitute for Homer Bailey to start the year). Skipper Bryan Price explained that considerations of control will come into play: “The thing is, we’ve got veteran guys like Marquis and Maholm and we don’t want to use them one start,” Price said. “If they’re going to be on our team, the hope is they’re on our team for the entire season if not longer. That’s how we have to look at it. You can back-and-forth a young guy. He can start a game or two, go down the minor leagues or go into the bullpen and help as a long guy. Marquis and Maholm are looking more like long-term, start-to-finish options for us.”
  • The Diamondbacks will be fascinating to watch this year, albeit not necessarily in terms of the on-field product, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports writes. As he notes, the team’s newly-installed front office leaders seem to have different ideas than many of their counterparts in the industry. While the organization is saddled with some less-than-ideal contracts, and seems higher on several players than others, it nevertheless has no shortage of young talent, trade chips, and roster options. That should make Arizona an active player in the transactional game over the course of the season.
  • Meanwhile, it is time for the Mets to press forward with delivering a winning team, even with Zack Wheeler likely lost to Tommy John surgery, Ken Davidoff of the New York Post writes. In the immediate term, there have been conflicting signals on how the club will fill in for Wheeler, with skipper Terry Collins saying Dillon Gee will move back to the rotation, GM Sandy Alderson declining to provide such a clear answer, and Joel Sherman of the New York Post reporting that prospect Rafael Montero could have a chance at breaking camp. In the aggregate, there is enough depth and talent to make up for losing Wheeler, says Davidoff, removing his injury as an excuse if a legitimate contender does not emerge. For his part, Sherman wonders whether the club has staked too much of its future on the health and development of young arms, though it seems worth echoing Davidoff’s point here: the sheer number and upside of the alternatives in camp give New York ample options.

Injury Notes: Darvish, Minor, Collins, Edgin, Turner, Wieters

There is a silver lining to the Yu Darvish injury for the Rangers, as Dave Cameron of Fangraphs writes. In short, if Darvish undergoes a UCL replacement, he will be nearly certain not to trigger any of the award-based opt-out provisions in his contract. Thus, while Texas would lose his services for 2015, they would in all likelihood gain him for 2017 — when, it might be hoped, the team will be in better shape for contention.

We have already seen significant injury news relating to four other pitchers today, and that’s not all:

  • The Braves got a positive update on starter Mike Minor as Dr. James Andrews concurred with club orthopedist Javier Duralde that an MRI showed no structural issues with Minor’s left shoulder, as David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. Minor will nevertheless sit out at least two weeks to rest his arm, and president of baseball operations John Hart says that the team will likely turn to internal options to fill in.
  • Andrews will take a look at another arm tomorrow when Tim Collins of the Royals checks in, Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star tweets. An MRI has already showed ligament damage to his left elbow. The final determination of whether he’ll undergo Tommy John surgery could have fairly significant ramifications for the club not only this year but into the future, as youngster Brandon Finnegan could be pressed back into relief duty.
  • Another club with a possible LOOGY issue is the Mets, whose top southpaw reliever Josh Edgin will undergo an MRI after experiencing a velocity drop and elbow soreness, as The Record’s Matt Ehalt reports. Missed time from Edgin would figure to pose difficulties given the team’s relative dearth of southpaw depth. As Ehalt explains, Scott Rice is in on a minor league deal and provides an option, while Rule 5 pick Sean Gilmartin is joined by fellow youngsters Jack Leathersich and Dario Alvarez on the 40-man roster.
  • Jacob Turner of the Cubs has been shut down with a flexor strain and bone bruise in his right elbow, as ESPNChicago.com’s Jesse Rogers tweets. The out-of-options Turner was probably destined for the Chicago ‘pen after the club claimed him off waivers late last year and picked up his $1MM option for 2015. It would appear that a DL stint will likely be in the cards for the start of the year, which in some ways gives the team more flexibility to give Turner a chance to start during a rehab period.
  • Orioles backstop Matt Wieters is just one week away from getting back behind the dish for a spring game, as Rich Dubroff of CSNBaltimore.com reports. Nearing a full return from Tommy John surgery, Wieters has already advanced to throwing to second at as much as 80% in practice. Given the rehab process he has just endured, the free agent-to-be says that his next contract is not where his focus is at present, as Peter Schmuck of the Baltimore Sun writes.


Cubs Exercise Option On Jacob Turner

The Cubs have exercised their option on starting pitcher Jacob Turner, Bruce Miles of the Daily Herald tweets. Turner’s option is worth $1MM, or $500K if he’s in the minors. The Cubs can control Turner for three years thereafter via arbitration.

The Marlins surprisingly made Turner available in August when they designated him for assignment, and the Cubs pounced, completing a trade to acquire him. The early returns weren’t great (Turner posted a 6.49 ERA and struck out just 17 batters in 34 2/3 innings in Chicago), but Turner is still just 23, and he’s a former first-round pick and top prospect. The Cubs will likely continue to take chances with him, given Turner’s upside and the number of opportunities available in the Cubs’ rotation.

 


Cubs Acquire Jacob Turner

The Cubs have bought low on another once-promising right-hander, as they’ve announced the acquisition Jacob Turner from the Marlins in exchange for minor league right-handers Tyler Bremer and Jose Arias. Chicago placed a claim on Turner earlier this week after Miami designated the once prized prospect for assignment and placed him on revocable waivers.

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Turner, who only recently turned 23, is a former first-round pick of the Tigers, and it wasn’t long ago that he was regarded as one of baseball’s top prospects. Acquired by Miami as the centerpiece to 2012’s Anibal Sanchez/Omar Infante trade with Detroit, Turner has struggled with the Marlins and was designated for assignment because he is out of minor league options. While the Marlins reportedly had lost patience with Turner after his struggles in both the rotation and the bullpen, the move is a curious one for a team that typically doesn’t spend much; cost-controllable starters with this type of upside are hard to come by, and Turner’s rotation spot will reportedly be filled by Brad Penny, making this decision a puzzling one, to say the least.

Though Turner’s ERA jumped from 3.74 last year (in 118 innings) to 5.97 in this year’s 78 1/3 innings, there’s plenty to like about the rest of his numbers in 2014. Turner’s K/9 rate, swinging strike rate and average fastball velocity have all increased (though he has not shown a significant jump in the latter measure when taking into account only his innings as a starter). Meanwhile, his BB/9 rate has dipped from 4.1 to 2.6. He’s also seen his ground-ball rate spike from a solid 45.7 percent to a strong 51.3 percent this season. Sabermetric ERA estimators such as FIP (4.01), xFIP (3.93) and SIERA (3.98) all feel that Turner has been markedly better than his earned run average would suggest in 2014.

Turner, who signed a Major League deal out of the draft (before the CBA banned such contracts), has a $1MM option for next season and can be controlled via arbitration once he has accumulated three years of Major League service. He’s controllable through at least the 2018 season for the Cubs and represents a chance for Chicago to buy low on another talented but struggling arm, as they did in 2013 with Jake Arrieta.

Turner, of course, may never bounce back to the level which Arrieta has in 2014, but the marginal cost to acquire him made this a fairly easy call for president Theo Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer once the Rockies surprisingly neglected to make a claim.

The 24-year-old has a 3.10 ERA with 10.8 K/9 and 3.8 BB/9 in in 52 1/3 innings of relief between Class-A Kane County and Class-A Advanced Daytona this season. Arias, a 23-year-old Dominican hurler, has a 1.77 ERA with 11.3 K/9 and 3.8 BB/9 in 40 2/3 innings at Kane County this season. Neither pitcher ranked among the Cubs’ top 30 prospects (per Baseball America) heading into the season.

ESPN’s Keith Law first broke the news of the trade (on Twitter). Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune tweeted that two Class-A pitchers were headed to the Marlins, with Law tweeting that both were relievers. Bremer’s brother, Noah, first tweeted his inclusion in the deal, while ESPN Chicago’s Jesse Rogers tweeted that Arias was the second pitcher.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


NL East Notes: Young, Nola, Turner

The Mets could jettison struggling outfielder Chris Young in the next week to ten days, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports. Young, signed before the season to a one-year, $7.25MM deal, has hit just .206/.284/.348 in 286 plate appearances, and cutting him could create opportunities for the younger Matt den Dekker (who’s hitting .331/.403/.533 in hitter-friendly Triple-A Las Vegas) to play every day. Here are more notes from the NL East.

  • The list of 2014 draftees off to hot starts to their pro careers includes former LSU pitcher Aaron Nola, the No. 7 overall pick by the Phillies, MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo writes. Nola got off to a great start with Class A+ Clearwater and pitched well in his first start at Double-A Reading. Mayo notes that the sample sizes for 2014 are all very small at this point. (Also, stats for players in the lower minors can be very difficult to interpret.) But it’s not uncommon for players to get off to hot starts in their first pro seasons and then continue that success into the following year, just like Cubs slugger Kris Bryant has.
  • Jacob Turner‘s impending departure from the Marlins serves as a reminder that the trade with the Tigers that brought him to Miami hasn’t worked out so well, Dave Tepps of the Palm Beach Post writes. Turner hasn’t worked out, and Rob Brantly and Brian Flynn have struggled to establish themselves in the Majors (although Flynn, who has pitched fairly well at the Triple-A level, may still have a future). Meanwhile, the Marlins gave up Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante, who both played well in Detroit, with Sanchez emerging as a mainstay in a terrific Tigers rotation.

NL East Notes: Gregg, Turner, Hamels, Harper

The Marlins announced today that Kevin Gregg‘s season is over, as the 36-year-old right-hander will undergo surgery to remove bone chips from his elbow. The Fish inked Gregg to a minor league deal back in early June and guaranteed him a base salary that was roughly equivalent to the value of the Competitive Balance pick they traded to the Pirates for fellow righty Bryan Morris. While the Morris acquisition has paid off in spades — he’s allowed one earned run in 31 1/3 innings — the decision to essentially reallocate that money to Gregg didn’t work out anywhere near as nicely. Gregg allowed 10 runs in nine innings with Miami before hitting the DL last month.

Here’s more on the Marlins and the rest of the NL East…

  • The Marlins‘ decision to designate former top prospect Jacob Turner for assignment raised some eyebrows, and MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro tries to shed some light on the rationale behind the move. Having tried Turner in both the rotation and the bullpen, Frisaro writes, the Marlins lost patience with his struggles. Wanting to change up their roster with the faint hope of a playoff push still in their minds, the club designated the out-of-options righty to clear roster space for Brian Flynn. However, Frisaro writes that it will likely end up being Brad Penny that takes Turner’s roster spot. While Penny has excelled in five Triple-A starts with the Marlins, it’s tough to buy the idea that a veteran who hasn’t pitched in the bigs since 2012 and posted a 5.41 ERA from 2011-12 is a more viable alternative based on 27 2/3 Triple-A innings. Fangraphs and Baseball Prospectus give the Marlins a 4.6 percent shot at making the playoffs (via division title or wild card), and the notion that Penny increases those odds enough to justify parting with four years of team control over Turner is a tough sell in my mind.
  • Disagreeing with an earlier piece from colleague Rob Neyer, Dave Cameron writes that the Phillies should have traded Cole Hamels prior to the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. While much has been made of the fact that the Phillies don’t need to shed salary, Cameron notes that the salary saved on Hamels could have been reallocated to the free agent market (one that will be filled with high-end pitchers) to acquire immediate help. Those free agents could’ve paired with potential MLB-ready help to improve the club’s immediate future. Cameron also cautions against the notion that Hamels can help the next contending team in Philadelphia, as the club looks to be far away from contention, and there’s little guarantee when it comes to pitchers — even elite ones — sustaining their success into their 30s.
  • Nationals manager Matt Williams sounded off to reporters, including MLB.com’s Daniel Popper, expressing his anger over the fact that some had inferred from Williams’ comments on a radio station that Bryce Harper could be sent to the minor leagues. In a Wednesday morning radio appearance, Williams was asked if it was a stupid idea to suggest that Harper could be demoted for a week to fix his swing. Williams responded by saying it wasn’t stupid — as such tactics are often employed with struggling young talent — but quickly followed by saying that Harper’s situation was different because he is a “special young player.” In talking with reporters Wednesday evening, Williams vented a bit, stating: “It [ticks] me off to even think about the fact that somebody would take a comment that I make on the radio and infer that I am thinking one way or another. I’ve had it. … [Harper]’s a very important part of our team, just like everybody else is. Do we understand each other? It’s not fair to the kid. It’s not fair to the rest of the clubhouse to even think about sending Bryce Harper to the Minor Leagues or to cause a stir. It’s unacceptable. It won’t happen.”

Cubs Claim Jacob Turner Off Revocable Waivers

The Cubs have claimed Marlins righty Jacob Turner off revocable waivers, ESPN.com’s Jim Bowden was first to report (on Twitter). (Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com also reported the claim by the Cubs, on Twitter. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports first tweeted that Turner had been claimed by a National League club.)

A deal is likely, of course, because Turner was designated for assignment and therefore would ultimately go back onto waivers if Miami were to pull him back. In that event, the same waiver priority order would apply. Only the Rockies (worst record in the National League) had a higher priority than the Cubs, meaning that Colorado passed on the chance to add the 23-year-old, once-hyped righty. That, seemingly, is a mystifying decision for an organization that has been clamoring for young pitching, especially given Turner’s increasing propensity for generating grounders.

Meanwhile, the Cubs seem likely to add yet another interesting young arm in need of a fresh start. In addition to showing a willingness to sign and flip veteran free agents, Chicago has targeted struggling-but-talented young pitchers through trade. After picking up Jake Arrieta and Pedro Strop last year in the Scott Feldman deal, for instance, the Cubs recently took Felix Doubront off of the Red Sox’ hands.

From the Marlins’ perspective, this move comes at an odd time. Had the team decided to part with him just a week ago, it would have had a much stronger position from which to craft a trade. Instead, Miami’s only leverage against the Cubs would be the possibility that Colorado might not pass on Turner a second time if he were to reach outright waivers.


Marlins Designate Jacob Turner For Assignment

The Marlins have designated right-hander Jacob Turner for assignment, the club announced. Lefty Brian Flynn has been recalled to take his spot on the active roster.

Needless to say, this comes as something of a surprise. Turner, 23, was at one point considered by some to be one of the game’s twenty best prospects. And while he has not produced good bottom-line results this year (5.97 ERA), Turner has been victimized by a .368 BABIP. And he has thrown just 264 total big league innings over parts of the last four seasons.

Notably, he has improved significantly this year in several respects: his 6.2 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 are improvements over last year, even though he’s allowed more earned runs, and he has even bumped up his groundball rate to 51.3%. Indeed, Turner owns a 4.01 FIP, 3.93 xFIP, and 3.98 SIERA on the season — all career-low marks, and all seemingly in line with a player of his age and former repute. His fastball velocity is on the rise.

Turner’s situation will certainly warrant a close eye. He will, of course, need to pass through waivers to be dealt. One wonders whether Miami perhaps already has its eye on some sort of trade with a high waiver-priority club. (The Rockies, followed by the Cubs, Phillies, and Diamondbacks, currently lead the NL “reverse standings.”) It is hard to imagine the club simply letting him go: not only was Turner the key piece in the deal that sent Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante to the Tigers two years ago (which also included Flynn), but he came into the season with just 1.033 years of service to his credit and so will not even be arb-eligible until 2016.

It is worth noting that Turner is already out of options and is playing on a MLB contract, which he signed after being chosen ninth overall in the 2009 draft. That deal comes with a $1MM option for next year. It gave Turner the right to opt out of that salary and file for arbitration if eligible after this season, but he won’t have enough service time to qualify. Nevertheless, the lack of an available option does limit his market somewhat, as a team would need to be willing to use both a 40-man and an active roster spot (or try to slip him through outright waivers at an opportune moment).

The fact is, players like Turner have value, even if they have not lived up to expectations. He reached the big leagues at a young age, and it seems that several teams would be willing to hold an active roster spot for him to make a run at harnessing his potential (while reaping the benefits of his low salary and team control). Just last year, the Astros shipped a very similar player in Jordan Lyles — former top prospect, decent peripherals, poor results — to the Rockies (along with Brandon Barnes) to acquire two full seasons of a solid, reasonably affordable MLB center fielder in Dexter Fowler.

On the other hand, Turner is something of an extraneous part for Miami, which has other advanced young arms in its system. (One contributing factor to that assessment, however, is that the team recently added Jarred Cosart via trade.) The club seems to be willing to give up at least some future value to improve its chances in 2014 — the Fish sit six and a half back in the NL East — and it could be that the assessment was already made that he would not warrant a roster spot for the rest of the way or over the offseason. (Of course, if that truly were the case, it would have seemed more likely for Turner to be moved a few days ago.)


Marlins Not Interested In Trading Pitchers

Though recent reports have indicated that the Marlins could be willing to move Jacob Turner, Joe Frisaro of MLB.com writes that the club isn't inclined to deal from its wealth of starting pitching at this time. Moreover, Juan C. Rodriguez of the Miami Sun-Sentinel spoke with an NL executive from a rival team in need of pitching who called the Marlins just this week and was plainly told that Turner isn't available.

As Frisaro notes Turner is out of minor league options, as is left-hander Brad Hand, who is battling with right-hander Tom Koehler for the fifth spot in the rotation. Koehler is currently the favorite for that job, but even if Hand misses out on a rotation slot, Frisaro writes that he would move to the bullpen as opposed to being traded.

At some point in the future, it seems logical to think that the Marlins will be willing to deal from their perceived surplus. While they currently have Jose Fernandez, Nathan Eovaldi, Henderson Alvarez and Turner penciled into their rotation, top prospects such as Andrew Heaney, Justin Nicolino, Anthony DeSclafani and Brian Flynn are on the way and all fairly close to the Majors. As that wave begins to push the current crop of starters in the Majors, Miami could choose to deal either a starter in their big league rotation or multiple prospects in order to bring in some established or promising offensive talent to support slugger Giancarlo Stanton.