Jake Arrieta Rumors
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.
The surprising Padres are off to a 38-38 start despite a 4.56 ERA from their starters that ranks as the second-worst mark in the National League. In fact, only five teams in all of baseball have a worse ERA from their rotation. It isn't surprising to see Jon Heyman of CBS Sports report that the Friars will be on the lookout for candidates to improve their starting rotation in the coming five to six weeks as the trade deadline draws near.
Heyman reports that the Padres have more money to spend than in previous years, and while it's a long-shot, they've discussed Jake Peavy internally. A more realistic target could be the Orioles' Jake Arrieta, whom Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune reported as a possible Padres target over the weekend. Heyman adds that younger starters like Arrieta are probably more realistic targets for the Padres, as they could add to an emerging core of controllable talent like Yonder Alonso, Jedd Gyorko and Everth Cabrera.
The AL East is home to the hottest team in baseball as the Blue Jays tied a franchise-record by winning their 11th consecutive game this afternoon and is the only division in baseball where every team has a winning record. Joel Sherman of the New York Post asked executives and scouts from the other five divisions to predict the finishing order in the AL East. The stunning result? The Red Sox are the favorite to win the division and no one polled sees the Yankees finishing higher than third. The consensus is the Yankees will be the AL East cellar-dwellers citing age, injuries, lack of depth in the minors, and a reluctance to add future payroll. Sherman also breaks down the strengths and weaknesses of the entire division and adds his summation for each team. Elsewhere in MLB's East divisions:
- The Mets had an oppportunity to recall Ike Davis when Lucas Duda landed on the disabled list, but the club decided against such a move. According to Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News, the Mets wanted to protect Davis as they are entering a stretch where they face several left-handers. "You don’t want to put him back in a funk right away," manager Terry Collins told reporters, including Ackert. Davis is hitting .310/.463/.690 with four home runs in 54 plate appearances since being sent to Triple-A Las Vegas.
- The Nationals may try to bolster their starting rotation with a trade after Dan Haren was placed on the disabled list, reports the Washington Post's Adam Kilgore. Haren signed a one-year, $13MM contract with the Nationals after his option was declined by the Angels when a proposed trade with the Cubs fell through over reported injury concerns.
- The name of the recently demoted Jake Arrieta keeps coming up as a possible trade chip for the Orioles. Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun writes the Orioles are eventually going to have to think long and hard about how the right-hander fits and what's best for his development. Encina guesses a move to the bullpen could be part of that plan, which would allow Arrieta to concentrate on pitching in smaller spurts.
- ESPN's Buster Olney (Insider subscription required) sees Arrieta as a Chris Davis-type situation: the talent is there, but the question is whether it will translate at some point.