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Jake Arrieta Rumors
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.
Earlier today, the Orioles acquired Scott Feldman and Steve Clevenger from the Cubs in exchange for Jake Arrieta, Pedro Strop and two international bonus slots. Here are some reactions and related news to the first significant trade of this year's trading season…
- MLBTR's Tim Dierkes reports that Arrieta has two year and 99 days of service time, meaning that the Cubs can avoid Super Two status if he accumulates less than 53 days of service time this season (Twitter link). If Arrieta picks up fewer than 73 days of service time, he will be controllable through the 2017 season.
- Dave Cameron of FanGraphs provides an excellent, in-depth analysis of the trade, noting that Feldman should net the Orioles an extra 1.0-1.5 wins above replacement, which is a critical upgrade over their internal rotation options. From the Cubs' point of view, Arrieta is a nice gamble, but the deal is really about the long-term future, Cameron writes. He agrees with the assessment of Baseball America's Ben Badler that the Cubs are clearly stockpiling international money to add top international prospect Eloy Jimenez after signing Gleyber Torres earlier today.
- Orioles executive VP of baseball operations Dan Duquette told Jim Bowden of ESPN and MLB Network Radio that he didn't want to trade prospects whose capabilities are unknown at this point. The O's parted with Arrieta and Strop because they believe they know what those arms are capable of (Twitter link).
- The Padres tried to acquire Arrieta, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, but it sounds like the Cubs fully intend on hanging onto him rather than including him in other deals.
- The Red Sox weren't in on Feldman, according to Sean McAdam of CSNNE.co (on Twitter). Feldman could have appealed to Boston had the rotation faded as the trade deadline drew nearer, but they weren't interested at this time.
- Cubs closer Kevin Gregg told MLB.com's Carrie Muskat that he couldn't believe the Cubs were able to acquire both Arrieta and Strop in the trade. Gregg offered high praise for the talent of both players, noting that a change of scenery could help Strop. Manager Dale Sveum expressed excitement to Muskat about acquiring a power arm like Strop that was part of baseball's best bullpen in 2012.
The first domino of trade season has dropped, as the Orioles acquired righty Scott Feldman and catcher Steve Clevenger from the Cubs today for righty Jake Arrieta, reliever Pedro Strop, and international bonus pool money, according ESPN's Keith Law. The Orioles sent international bonus slots 3 and 4 to the Cubs, according to the team. That amounts to an additional $388,100 for the Cubs, who started with an international bonus pool of $4,557,200 and picked up another $784,700 from the Astros while sending $209,700 to the Dodgers. This is the first MLB trade involving international bonus pool money. After being involved in three international bonus pool-related trades today, the Cubs added $963,100 to their pool.
The Cubs signed Feldman, 30, to a one-year, $6MM deal in November. He was a prime candidate to be flipped by the 35-45 Cubs, since a qualifying offer in the $14MM range would likely have been too steep after the season. He's now ineligible for such an offer. Feldman owns a 3.46 ERA, 6.6 K/9, 2.5 BB/9, 0.99 HR/9, and 50.7% groundball rate in 91 innings this year. "Feldman is a proven starter with postseason experience who should help stabilize our rotation for the second half," Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette said in a statement. Those nine postseason relief appearances came in 2011 with the Rangers, Feldman's organization since being drafted in '03 prior to signing with the Cubs. He joins an Orioles rotation that ranks 13th in the American League with a 4.79 ERA and currently features Jason Hammel, Miguel Gonzalez, Chris Tillman, and, when healthy, Wei-Yin Chen. Duquette told reporters including MLB.com's Brittany Ghiroli that he doesn't see any more outside moves.
Arrieta, 27, was due for a change of scenery. The Orioles drafted him out of Texas Christian University in the fifth round in 2007, and he never realized the promise that had him ranked as the 67th best prospect in baseball by Baseball America prior to the '09 season. In 358 innings in his Orioles career spanning 2010-13, Arrieta posted a 5.46 ERA, 7.0 K/9, 4.0 BB/9, and 1.21 HR/9. A strong Spring Training this year netted him the Orioles' fourth starter job, but he was demoted to Triple-A by late April. After shaking off shoulder tenderness, he has bounced up and down since. Arrieta's last two Triple-A outings, presumably scouted by the Cubs, have gone well. He works around 95 miles per hour and BA once said he had the potential for three plus pitches, so the Cubs have an interesting arm with which to work. He'll head to Triple-A Iowa for the Cubs. Arrieta currently has two years and 99 days of Major League service time, so he needs 53 days to be eligible for Super Two status after the season and 73 to be eligible for free agency after 2016 rather than '17.
Strop, 28, will join the Cubs' big league bullpen. His poor control caught up to him this year, as he has a 7.25 ERA, 9.7 K/9, 6.0 BB/9, 1.61 HR/9, and 48.4% groundball rate in 22 1/3 innings. He hit the DL in late May with a lower back strain, returning June 8th. Strop was signed out of the Dominican Republic by the Rockies in '02, and signed with the Rangers after being released in '08. He made his big league debut with Texas, later joining the Orioles in 2011 to complete the Mike Gonzalez deal. Strop works around 96 miles per hour, so the Cubs received a pair of power arm projects in this trade.
Clevenger, 27, was born and raised in Baltimore, and his agent told Jon Heyman of CBS Sports the trade is "almost a dream come true." He'll head to Triple-A Norfolk for now. He hit .327/.426/.596 in his short time with the Cubs' Triple-A team this year, spending time on the 60-day DL with an oblique strain. He made the Cubs' Opening Day roster but suffered the injury in mid-April. Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish first reported that Clevenger appeared to be on the move.
Tim Dierkes contributed to this post. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune discusses (or shoots down) some Padres trade possibilities in his weekly online chat with fans…
- The Padres "are enamored" with Orioles right-hander Jake Arrieta. Center reported last week that the Padres have been linked to Arrieta, and Center spoke to a pair of scouts this week who "really love Arrieta's stuff" and believe he could be a second or third starter "in the right situation."
- Center hears that Arrieta and Matt Garza are the pitchers most associated with a potential Padres trade. Several teams are interested in Garza, though I'd argue the Padres could have a possible edge due to Cubs GM Jed Hoyer's familiarity with the San Diego organization and farm system.
- Andrew Cashner, Jedd Gyorko and Everth Cabrera are three players that Center considers "untouchable" for the Padres. Cabrera could be an exception if San Diego received a Major League shortstop in return.
- Center hasn't heard of any Padres interest in Yovani Gallardo or Phil Hughes.
- It's a "long shot" that the Padres would re-acquire White Sox right-hander Jake Peavy. The veteran hurler will be out until after the All-Star break with a rib injury and you would think the Padres would want a safer option if they were going to acquire a starter.
- The San Diego bullpen has been shakier than usual, and Center believes the team may have to make a move to address the problem unless the club can get longer outings from its starting pitchers. Entering Sunday, Padres relievers had thrown 278 innings this season, tied for the third-highest total in the Major Leagues.
- There is a greater possibility that Luke Gregerson is dealt rather than Huston Street because Gregerson would draw more interest on the trade market. Gregerson has been shaky of late (one of the victims of the overworked San Diego bullpen) but still has a 2.67 ERA, 7.5 K/9 and 3.5 K/BB ratio in 33 2/3 innings this season. Gregerson is also much cheaper than Street, who is owed $10.5MM through the end of the 2014 season.