Jacob Turner Rumors

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.


NL Notes: Chapman, Turner, Cubs

Reds closer Aroldis Chapman got relatively good news a day after being struck in the face with a ball, as MLB.com's Mark Sheldon notes. He's having surgery today, but he could be out of the hospital by this weekend. He'll likely be out six to eight weeks, and the Reds believe he will definitely pitch this season. Best of all, he had only a mild concussion, and not a serious brain injury. Here are more notes from the National League.

  • The Marlins could deal starting pitcher Jacob Turner due to their depth of starting pitching, FOX Sports Jon Morosi tweets. The Mariners and Diamondbacks could be possible trade partners. Turner, who will be 23 in May, posted a 3.74 ERA with 5.9 K/9 and 4.1 BB/9 in 2013. He will be eligible for arbitration after the 2015 season and free agency after the 2018 season.
  • The Cubs are currently considering at least 12 players as potential selections with the No. 4 overall pick in this year's draft, Patrick Mooney of CSNChicago.com writes. The draft isn't for another two-plus months, so it's hardly surprising that the Cubs' list would be so long. It includes now-familiar names like NC State pitcher Carlos Rodon (who very likely will be gone by the time the Cubs pick), East Carolina pitcher Jeff Hoffman, Vanderbilt pitcher Tyler Beede, and Texas high school pitcher Tyler Kolek.

NL Notes: Niese, D’backs, Pirates, Marlins, Dodgers

Mets left-hander Jon Niese was removed from his start today after only two innings and 35 pitches with what the club calls left elbow discomfort. Niese had been wearing a neoprene sleve on his left arm the past few days, tweets Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News. "It's the Spring Training from hell," Niese told reporters (as quoted by ESPNNewYork.com's Adam Rubin). Niese also said he hyperextended the elbow, which first flared up during an intrasquad game 10 days ago, and has been taking anti-inflammatory medication and undergoing rehab since. Niese added the discomfort is in the back of the elbow, not in the ligament area (the focus of Tommy John surgery). The Mets are flying the 27-year-old to New York tonight with a MRI, his second in less than three weeks, scheduled for tomorrow, tweets Marc Carig of Newsday

Elsewhere in the National League:


Quick Hits: Choo, Turner, Mets, Lambo, Santana

The seven-year, $140MM offer that the Yankees offered Shin-Soo Choo was only on the table for less than a day.  As MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince notes, New York offered Choo the contract and then pulled it back almost as quickly in order to instead sign Carlos Beltran to a three-year, $45MM deal.  "In my opinion, it takes some time to make a decision, maybe at least a couple days," Choo said. "You want to learn a city and a team. They gave me 21 hours."  The Yankees' withdrawal could've been due to Beltran simply accepting his offer first, or perhaps because Scott Boras (Choo's agent), reportedly asked the Yankees to match the $153MM the Bombers gave to Jacoby Ellsbury.  Choo didn't end up doing too badly for himself at any rate, signing a seven-year, $130MM deal with the Rangers.

Here's some news from around the baseball world…

  • CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman lists 14 players who could traded during Spring Training.  Most of these names have popped up on the pages of MLBTR over the last few weeks, though one new name is Marlins right-hander Jacob Turner.  Heyman says there's "not a great chance" Miami would deal Turner but since the Marlins have a lot of good young pitchers, "folks on other teams speculate this could be the one arm the Marlins might move in that right deal" for offensive help.
  • Ike Davis' calf injury has not only set back the Mets' first base competition, but it has also ruined any possible chance of a trade showcase for Davis during Spring Training, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News writes.  The Brewers, Pirates and Orioles have all been connected to Davis in trade rumors during the offseason but obviously no move will be made any time soon, as Davis is currently in a walking boot and recently had an MRI on his right calf.
  • Speaking of the Pirates' first base search, the team could end up finding its left-handed platoon partner for Gaby Sanchez already on the roster in the form of Andrew Lambo, Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writes.  While maturity issues and a 50-game suspension reportedly relating to marijuana use have set back Lambo's career, he is still only 25 and has posted some strong power numbers in the minors.
  • "I just don't see what we have to lose," Indians manager Terry Francona says about Carlos Santana's attempted conversion to third base.  FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal recaps the reasons behind Santana's surprising decision to try the hot corner and how it could be a boon for the Tribe if Santana could handle the position.
  • Nate Schierholtz wants to remain with the Cubs but is cognizant of the fact that could be traded, MLB.com's Carrie Muskat reports.  The veteran outfielder said he hasn't spoken to Cubs management about staying beyond his current one-year contract.  Recent rumors put Schierholtz on the trading block thanks to Ryan Kalish's progress, not to mention the fact that Kalish is playing on a minor league deal while Schierholtz is owed $5MM this season.