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Jake Arrieta Rumors
The Cubs top the list of teams who could improve substantially in 2015, Richard Justice of Sports On Earth writes. That was probably an easy call, given the amount of young talent the Cubs have on the verge of making an impact. Justice also lists the Mets (who are set to re-introduce Matt Harvey into a strong core of young pitching), Red Sox, Marlins and Astros as teams who could take big steps forward. Here’s more from the National League.
- The Cubs haven’t had any formal extension discussions with emerging star Jake Arrieta, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times writes. Cubs president Theo Epstein says he doesn’t see extending Arrieta as “a pressing matter.” Arrieta, meanwhile, says he doesn’t want an exorbitant amount of money, but expresses confidence that he can continue posting excellent numbers. He’ll also be eligible for arbitration this offseason, so it’s no surprise that, as Wittenmyer notes, Arrieta is in “no rush” to sign a long-term deal.
- The Pirates‘ 82nd victory in 2013 was an important moment, but on Thursday, the arrival of the Bucs’ second straight winning season felt unimportant, Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writes. “Eighty-two no longer should be celebrated at some point in early to mid Sept., it should be an expectation,” Sawchik writes, noting that the Pirates have a strong core of Andrew McCutchen, Starling Marte, Gerrit Cole, Neil Walker and Gregory Polanco (along with Josh Harrison) and one of baseball’s better collections of minor league talent.
- The Phillies could have a revamped outfield next season, given that they could deal Marlon Byrd and/or give up on Domonic Brown. The team is also hoping for more from Ben Revere next season, MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki writes. Revere has hit .309 so far this season, but his minimal walks and power have led to an on-base percentage of .326 and a slugging percentage of .367. Manager Ryne Sandberg hopes Revere will hit for more power. “I think that should be the next thing for him is to hit 35 to 40 doubles in the season, hit in the gaps,” says Sandberg. “[T]here is no reason that shouldn’t translate into games and certain situations with certain pitches.” Revere has been in the big leagues for parts of five seasons and has shown little power-hitting ability, however.
Here’s the latest out of the National League:
- The agent for Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval says that the free agent-to-be is still open to discussing a new deal, though no talks have occurred “in months,” according to a tweet from Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com. Sandoval, who will hit the market before his age-28 season, has put up a solid walk year. In addition to a .283/.330/.438 line and 14 home runs through 463 plate appearances, Sandoval has impressed defensive metrics and scouts alike with his glovework on the hot corner. Even better, his primary competitor on the third base market, Chase Headley, has not impressed. Of course, many clubs will probably view Hanley Ramirez as a third base option at this point as well.
- Cubs starter Jake Arrieta says he is open to an extension with the club, as Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reports. Though his agent, Scott Boras, typically advises his clients to go year-to-year until reaching free agency, Arrieta says he loves playing in Chicago and would be interested in a reasonable new contract. “I don’t think I’m a guy that’s going to ask for an astronomical amount of money,” he said. “But I think if there’s a fair deal to be reached, I’m in 100 percent.” Arrieta added that he felt Boras would not be any hindrance to a deal, but would instead arm him with the necessary advice and information to enable him to reach a decision. He did note that no talks had occurred to date: “I don’t think it’s out of the question. I don’t think there’s been anything formal in the works, but this is an organization that I’ve really seen a transformation take place … .” Arrieta will be arb-eligible for the first time next year, entering his age-29 season, and could not have set himself up much better. His current line: 2.77 ERA over 110 1/3 innings with 9.2 K/9 against 2.4 BB/9.
- The Diamondbacks will be in the market for starting pitching over the coming winter, and could look to the Japanese market to fill the need, reports Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. Having worked to increase the team’s presence in Japan, the D’backs have been among the many teams watching 26-year-old righty Kenta Maeda, says Piecoro.
- Braves righty Cody Martin drew plenty of interest as the club looked to bolster its bullpen and bench at the trade deadline, writes Bill Ballew of Baseball America. With a solid feel for multiple quality offerings, Martin has drawn comparisons to Kris Medlen and is viewed as a solid rotation or pen candidate despite his lack of a single plus pitch.
The Cubs scored a league-best eight players within MLB.com’s midseason list of the top 100 prospects in baseball, and also topped the league in terms of the “prospect points” ranking system. Kris Bryant (fourth), Javier Baez (sixth) and Addison Russell (seventh) were the highest-rated young Cubs on the list.
Here’s some more news out of Wrigleyville…
- Rumors linking the Cubs to David Price don’t make much sense, ESPN’s Buster Olney opines (Twitter links). While the Cubs have the prospect depth the Rays are looking for in a Price deal, Olney wonders why Chicago would give away top minor league talent when they could just sign a top free agent arm like Jon Lester this winter if they wanted to add an ace.
- Olney figures the Cubs would only make a move for him if the Rays’ asking price severely dropped and if Chicago was allowed to negotiate an extension before making the trade, as the Cubs aren’t going to be contenders before Price’s contract expires at the end of the 2015 season.
- “We called Theo [Epstein] and asked about Jake Arrieta and we were told they will NOT move him. Period,” an NL scout tells David Kaplan of CSN Chicago (Twitter link). There were rumors last month that the Cubs were gauging the market for Arrieta, yet it’s no surprise he could be untouchable given his excellent performance this year. The right-hander has a 2.18 ERA and 9.8 K/9 over 91 innings and is controlled through the 2017 season.
- The Cubs have received trade interest in second baseman Darwin Barney and expect to move him before Thursday’s DFA deadline, Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish tweets. Barney was designated for assignment by Chicago on July 22.
- Neither the Cubs or the Diamondbacks will trade from their surplus of young infielders this summer, as both teams prefer to use that depth to look for pitching in the offseason, Metsblog.com’s Matthew Cerrone reports.
Justin Verlander‘s recent struggles are “a giant concern” for the Tigers, writes James Schmel of MLive.com, because Verlander himself admits that he isn’t sure how to fix them. Verlander told reporters that he doesn’t feel he’s at the point in his career where he needs to reinvent himself on the mound, though he acknowledged that he doesn’t have the same velocity he used to have and said he didn’t blame the fans for booing him last night as he left the game. Verlander yielded seven runs on 12 hits last night and has posted a 7.83 ERA with a woeful 26-to-20 K/BB ratio over his last 43 2/3 innings (seven starts). He is averaging a career-worst (though still solid) 92.6 mph on his fastball.
Here’s more on the Tigers and the baseball’s Central divisions…
- Jon Morosi of FOX Sports hears that the Tigers aren’t planning on making a move to upgrade at shortstop, as they like what they’ve seen from rookie Eugenio Suarez since his promotion to the Majors (Twitter link). It’s tough not to like what they’ve seen from the 22-year-old Suarez, who is hitting .346/.452/.808 with three homers through his first 10 games. Clearly, he’s due for some regression, but the optimism is understandable.
- An AL scout tells David Kaplan of CSN Chicago that he’s spoken to the Cubs about both Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel, but he hasn’t gotten any indication from Chicago that any of their other starters are available (Twitter link). That contrasts recent reports that the team would be willing to listen to offers on Edwin Jackson and Jake Arrieta. Given Jackson’s remaining salary, it seems hard to believe that Chicago wouldn’t be open to moving him.
- The Pirates weren’t looking to trade right-hander Bryan Morris before trading him to the Marlins, GM Neal Huntington tells Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. However, Miami expressed interest in the deal after being attracted to an increase in Morris’ velocity and the addition of a two-seam/sinking fastball to his repertoire, and the two sides were able to strike a deal. Pittsburgh received Miami’s Competitive Balance Round A pick (No. 39 overall), used to draft (and sign) Connor Joe, while Miami has been rewarded to this point with 9 1/3 innings of scoreless relief from Morris, who has shown greatly improved command.
- Twins closer Glen Perkins offered some candid comments regarding catcher Josmil Pinto on 1500 ESPN Radio with Phil Mackey and Judd Zulgad (via Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press). While he was highly complimentary of Pinto’s offensive skills, the left-hander was blunt in his description of Pinto’s defense: “He’s a long, long ways away, to be honest with you. …his pitch framing, he’s got some work to do.” Perkins flatly he said Pinto is “surely not at the big-league level as far as catching for me.” Perkins went on to preach the importance of framing and praise veterans Jonathan Lucroy and Jose Molina for their prowess at the skill. Minnesota recently sent Pinto to the minors to get more consistent at-bats and consistent time behind the plate. He’s spent much of the season DHing while Kurt Suzuki, whose offensive contributions have been somewhat surprising, has done the bulk of the catching.
- After leaving the Reds organization to take a “mental break,” the representative of reliever Carlos Marmol says that the righty may not look to return this season, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Agent Paul Kinzer told Heyman that Marmol decided to return to the Dominican Republic to deal with unspecified personal issues, and has had no physical problems.
Jeff Todd contributed to this post.
JUNE 16: In addition to discussing Samardzija and Hammel trades, the Cubs are at least willing to consider the possibility of moving additional arms, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports (Twitter links). Morosi hears Chicago is trying to gauge the market on Samardzija, Hammel, Edwin Jackson and even Jake Arrieta.
It’s not surprising that they’d be willing to move Jackson, as they undoubtedly would be pleased to shed some of his salary obligations — he is owed roughly $28.3MM through 2016 — but Arrieta is somewhat of a surprise. Chicago acquired him in last year’s Scott Feldman trade, and he’s off to an outstanding start in 2014, having pitched to a 2.09 ERA with 9.2 K/9, 2.9 BB/9 and a 52.1 percent ground-ball rate in 43 innings. Still just 28 years old, Arrieta is not yet arbitration eligible and is under team control through 2017, so it stands to reason that the asking price would be high.
Listening on Arrieta is a bit puzzling, as one would think he’s the type of arm the Cubs would like to build their rotation around, but he’s also battled injuries and has never been able to consistently succeed in the Majors, despite having the talent to do so. As Morosi notes, the Cubs aren’t planning to trade all four starters, but rather is doing its due diligence to know the market value of each starter heading into trade season.
JUNE 14: The Cubs are already discussing trades involving starting pitchers Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel with at least two teams, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reports. Interested teams include the Braves, Blue Jays and Mariners, and Wittenmyer cites one source from within baseball who tells him Hammel is likely to wind up with Seattle.
With about six weeks left to go before the trade deadline, the Cubs are 27-38, 11 1/2 games behind the Brewers in the NL Central. It is, of course, not necessarily surprising that the Cubs would consider trading two veteran pitchers who are having good seasons. Samardzija, who is eligible for free agency following the 2015 season, currently has a 2.77 ERA with 8.1 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 in 91 innings. Hammel, who’s signed to a one-year deal for $6MM, is in the midst of the best season of his career, with a 2.81 ERA with 8.2 K/9 and 1.9 BB/9.
Steve Adams contributed to this post.
The Yankees have begun discussions with manager Joe Girardi as his three-year contract is set to expire, but Mark Gonzales of the Chicago-Tribune reports that the Cubs may be willing to top any offer the Yankees make (subscription required). According to Gonzales, Girardi's annual salary may soar over the $5MM mark, and he could exceed his previous three-year guarantee as well. Here's more out of the AL East…
- Joel Sherman of the New York Post spoke with nine executives who believe that the Rays will trade David Price this offseason. Sherman points out that Price's $10MM salary could approach $15MM (MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projects $13.1MM), and the Rays have previously dealt Matt Garza and James Shields with two years of team control remaining. Now that they are among the league's best teams each year, the Rays must add top talent via trade instead of at the top of the draft, Sherman adds. The Rangers, Cubs and D-Backs were popular guesses for landing spots among Sherman's panel of nine executives.
- Stephen Drew would love to return to the Red Sox and went so far as to say that he'd like to finish his career in Boston, writes WEEI.com's Rob Bradford. Bradford outlines a scenario in which Drew could remain with the Sox, though it would require shifting Xander Bogaerts from shortstop to third base and moving Will Middlebrooks across the diamond from third base to first base.
- The Orioles aren't expected to pursue Mike Morse in free agency this offseason, writes Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com. Kubatko opines that Morse could be a bargain, however, noting his limited leverage coming off a .215/.270/.381 season and pointing to Morse's monster production in 2011 (.303/.360/.550). Kubatko adds that the Nationals tried to trade Morse to the Orioles at last year's Winter Meetings, but the Nats weren't interested in parting with right-hander Jake Arrieta at the time. Arrieta eventually went to the Cubs in this summer's Scott Feldman deal.
The NL Central has morphed into one of the game's toughest divisions, with three teams ticketed for October baseball in the form of the Cardinals, Reds and Pirates. Here are some notes on the division's non-playoff teams…
- Kyle Lohse picked up a $350K bonus tonight for reaching the 190-inning mark, tweets Todd Rosiak of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Lohse signed a three-year, $33MM contract in Spring Training and has delivered nearly 200 innings of a mid-3.00 ERA for the Brewers.
- Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago writes that the Cubs' 2014 rotation is beginning to take shape, and Jake Arrieta has cemented a spot for himself among the team's core of starting pitchers with his solid performance after coming over from the Orioles in the Scott Feldman trade. Manager Dale Sveum told Rogers the only uncertainty in the rotation, in his mind, circles around the No. 5 spot. Jeff Samardzija, Travis Wood and Edwin Jackson will join Arrieta in the rotation next season.
- Speaking of Sveum, David Haugh of the Chicago Tribune opines that the right thing for Cubs president Theo Epstein to do is bring his manager back for the 2014 season (subscription required). Firing Sveum with one year left on his contract would send the wrong message, writes Haugh. He's been given little Major League talent to work with and has done nothing to embarrass the organization.
Let's take a quick look at some notes from the National League …
- Recent Cubs trade acquisition Jake Arrieta is struggling with consistency even while flashing the potential to be a dominant starter, writes Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune. Of course, as MLBTR's Zach Links noted back when he was shipped to Chicago, Arrieta was a nice buy-low, change-of-scenery candidate precisely because of his historical inability to harness his stuff.
- Looking forward to the club's right field opening in 2014, the Mets probably lack the top-end young bat that would be necessary to draw Giancarlo Stanton away from the Marlins, writes ESPNNewYork.com's Mark Simon. (Simon notes that catcher Travis d'Arnaud could fit the bill, but his struggles at the MLB level lower his value and he fills an obvious need for his current club.) Looking elsewhere, Simon tabs Shin-Soo Choo, Hunter Pence, Nelson Cruz, and recent Met Marlon Byrd as potential targets.
- Nationals ace Stephen Strasburg had his start skipped today after experiencing soreness in his right forearm, reports Tom Schad of MLB.com. Though manager Davey Johnson said that a medical examination revealed nothing of concern, the team is understandably proceeding with caution, even as it tries to hang on to the fringes of the Wild Card race. At this point, Strasburg has set himself up for a nice arbitration payday regardless of what happens over his remaining starts. He will enter the process for the first time with a career 2.95 ERA over 421 1/3 innings pitched, with 10.6 K/9 against just 2.5 BB/9, although his relatively low inning totals (he is at a career-high 170) and lack of wins this year (he has just seven) could limit his earning potential somewhat.
Here's the latest from Wrigleyville….
- Matt Guerrier will be sidelined for the next 6-8 months after undergoing flexor mass surgery on his throwing arm today, MLB.com's Carrie Muskat reports. Guerrier posted a 2.13 ERA in 12 2/3 IP for the Cubs after being acquired from the Dodgers in July. The 35-year-old righty will be a free agent this winter and has said he would like to re-sign with the Cubs. Given his injury situation, one would think Guerrier will be limited to a minor league deal this offseason.
- The Scott Feldman trade is looking like a win for the Cubs thus far, ESPN Chicago's Bruce Levine notes, as Jake Arrieta and Pedro Strop have both pitched well since coming to Chicago. Arrieta allowed two hits over seven shutout innings in today's 7-0 Cubs win over the Cardinals, dropping Arrieta's ERA to 0.69 in two starts with his new club. Strop, meanwhile, has a 2.41 ERA and 21 strikeouts in 18 2/3 innings as a Cub.
- In a live chat with Cubs fans, ESPN's Jesse Rogers predicts a relatively quiet winter for the Cubs, with "more turnover in pitching than anywhere else," though he doesn't think the Cubs will make a big splash for someone like David Price. Rogers thinks outfielders Nate Schierholtz and David DeJesus will both stick with the team until at least the middle of next season
The Twins look like sellers again this year, as they're on pace for their third straight 90-loss campaign. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports looked at the team's trade chips last week, noting that a market for first baseman Justin Morneau hasn't really materialized as of yet. Here's more on the Twins from Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities (Twins news comes about halfway into the article)…
- Even though they're sellers, vice president of player personnel Mike Radcliff tells Wolfson that the Twins could still add a player that is controlled beyond 2013. Radcliff wouldn't comment on specific names, but a league source informed Wolfson that the Twins are interested in Bud Norris. The Twins would have plenty of competition were they to make a play for Norris, as he's been connected to the Rangers, Pirates, Dodgers, Giants, Blue Jays and Red Sox in the past week alone.
- The Red Sox, Braves, and Phillies all had scouts at Target Field over the weekend. All three teams have been connected to bullpen help of late, and the Twins have trade candidates such as Jared Burton and Brian Duensing in their 'pen. Glen Perkins, of course, has drawn quite a bit of interest, but the Twins have turned interested parties away thus far. Casey Fien also drew some interest from the Giants earlier this summer.
- No international signings are imminent, but Radcliff described the process as "fluid," noting that the Twins still have money to spend. However, the team has no plans to trade any of its remaining bonus slots.
- The Twins are still interested in 18-year-old Taiwanese righty Jen-Ho Tseng, who is reportedly close to a deal with the Cubs. The team will remain in contact with his camp until they receive official word.
- Radcliff said Byron Buxton, who was recently named the No. 1 prospect in baseball by ESPN's Keith Law (ESPN Insider required), could ascend to Double-A New Britain before the season is over. That would be a quick rise for the 19-year-old, who began the season with Class A Cedar Rapids and has moved up to High-A Fort Myers recently.
- The Twins were interested in Jake Arrieta before he was acquired by the Cubs in the Scott Feldman deal earlier this month.