James Paxton Rumors
Though he may not be traded at this week's Winter Meetings (and may not be traded this offseason at all), Rays ace David Price figures to be one of the most popular topics of discussion over the coming days. Last week, it was reported that the Mariners could push for Price in the wake of their surprising Robinson Cano signing. We'll keep track of today's rumors surrounding Price's availability right here...
- The Mariners believe that they could land Price if they were willing to include Taijuan Walker in their offer, says Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (Twitter links). However, the M's have no interest in including either Walker or James Paxton, and believe they made a mistake by including Walker in their bid for Justin Upton nearly a year ago. Seattle would prefer to build an offer for Price around position players, according to Heyman.
- Joel Sherman of the New York Post is hearing the same sort of rumblings as Stark (linked below). D-Backs GM Kevin Towers and another exec told Sherman that the Rays have yet to push Price onto the market, and that their plan may involve waiting for teams to miss out on their first or second options, then capitalizing.
- Teams that have inquired on Price get the impression that the Rays aren't in any rush to make a deal, according to Jayson Stark of ESPN.com. One rival executive believes GM Andrew Friedman will move deliberately in an attempt to get the price as high as possible, then perhaps pull back and waiting for interested teams to get even more desperate.
- Rays manager Joe Maddon believes it's "probably less likely" that the team would wait until next season to move Price, as Stark writes in a separate ESPN.com piece.
- The Mariners, Rangers and Dodgers are the three most serious suitors for Price at this time, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.
- The Dodgers and Rays may be matching up on a Price trade, tweets Bruce Levine of WSCR.
- The Dodgers have made their interest in Price known to the Rays, reports Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times. However, Hernandez feels that Price is a "long shot" to end up in Dodger Blue. For one, the Dodgers lack the type of impact, MLB-ready prospects the Rays will covet, as their top chips are teenagers Corey Seager and Julio Urias. Beyond that, dealing names like Seager and Urias would go against their desire to rebuild what has become a depleted farm system.
Check here for today's promotions of top prospects around baseball....
- The Mariners have called up left-hander James Paxton, Don Ruiz of the Tacoma News Tribune reports. Paxton, 24, was ranked before the season as one of the game's top prospects by MLB.com (57th) and Baseball America (#87) and he has posted a 4.45 ERA, 8.1 K/9, 2.26 K/BB rate over 145 2/3 innings in his first taste of Triple-A this year. The southpaw is the second top M's pitching prospect this week to receive a promotion, after Taijuan Walker. Paxton is under team control through the 2019 campaign and he'll have to be added to Seattle's 40-man roster.
- The Brewers have called up right-hander Jimmy Nelson, manager Ron Roenicke told reporters (including MLB.com's Adam McCalvy). Nelson, a second-rounder from the 2010 draft, has been a starter for the last three seasons but the Crew will use him as a reliever. MLB.com ranked Nelson as the top prospect in the Brewers system and the 88th-best prospect overall, saying that the 24-year-old has "a heavy fastball that elicits ground balls and sits in the low 90s." Nelson posted a 3.25 ERA, 9.6 K/9 and 2.51 K/BB rate in 27 starts at Double-A and Triple-A this season, though he didn't perform quite as well at Triple-A. Since he's being called up at this late date in the season, Nelson won't gain Super Two status and will be under team control through 2019.
- The Orioles have called up middle infielder Jonathan Schoop, according to David Hall of the Virginian Pilot (Twitter link). Schoop was ranked as the 50th-best prospect in baseball by ESPN's Keith Law (ESPN insider subscription required) before the season and MLB.com ranks him as the fourth-best prospect in the Baltimore organization. Schoop, 21, hails from Curacao and has gradually evolved from a shortstop to a second baseman over his five minor league seasons could possibly be Brian Roberts' replacement at the position in the Major Leagues. Schoop was limited to 285 PA at Triple-A Norfolk this season due to a stress fracture in his back, and he hit .255/.298/.397 with nine homers for the Tides. He will be under team control through 2019, as Schoop's late callup won't give him Super Two status. Besides Schoop, the O's have also called up Henry Urrutia and right-hander Josh Stinson.
- As expected, the Reds have purchased the contract of outfielder Billy Hamilton, according to a tweet from his now-former club, the Triple-A Louisville Bats. Hamilton currently stands as the 17th-best prospect in baseball, according to MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo. The 22-year-old burner has scuffled somewhat in his first season at Triple-A, seeing his on-base percentage drop to a career-low .308 mark and carrying a .651 OPS. Nevertheless, he has swiped 75 bases in 90 attempts, added some pop (he has a career-best six home runs), and transitioned from shortstop to center field. Baseball Prospectus has a full scouting report on Hamilton (subscription required) as he reaches the bigs for the first time.
- The White Sox have brought up two of the organization's top prospects, Dan Hayes of CSNChicago.com tweets. In addition to well-regarded youngster Marcus Semien, the club has purchased the contract of righty Erik Johnson, who John Sickels of Minor League Ball ranks as the 76th-best prospect in the game. Though he missed the top-100 list of MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo, Johnson did appear at the number two slot among White Sox prospects, with Mayo explaining that he has the repertoire to become a mid-rotation starter. The 23-year-old has an excellent 1.57 ERA over 57 1/3 innings since reaching Triple-A, where he maintains a 8.9 K/9 ratio against 3.0 BB/9.
10:50pm: Taijuan Walker would have been the fourth player in the trade package to the D'Backs, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (via Twitter). Walker, a 20-year-old right-hander, was ranked as the 20th-best prospect in the sport by Baseball America prior to the 2012 season, though he struggled pitching at the Double-A level last year.
7:40pm: The Mariners offered a four-player package to the D'Backs, according to Scott Miller of CBS Sports. Arizona would have received Nick Franklin, Charlie Furbush, Stephen Pryor and one of Taijuan Walker, Danny Hultzen or James Paxton.
6:06 pm: Diamondbacks outfielder Justin Upton invoked his limited no-trade clause to reject an agreed-upon deal between the D'Backs and Mariners that would have sent Upton to Seattle, reports Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. The M's were prepared to give up "a package of young talent" in the trade, a return that Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic has heard was "substantial" (Twitter link).
Though several teams have been linked to Upton over the last two seasons, the Mariners seem to be the first to propose a deal that has gotten the D'Backs to agree to move the 25-year-old outfielder. As Rosenthal/Morosi note, the trade rejection could be gamesmanship by either Upton or the D'Backs --- Upton could be trying to control where he ends up, or the Snakes are sending the message that if Upton wants to leave Arizona, his only option is Seattle. The Mariners, Blue Jays, Red Sox and Cubs are the four teams on Upton's current no-trade list, according to ESPN's Jerry Crasnick (Twitter link).
Earlier today, ESPN's Buster Olney said we shouldn't be surprised if the Royals trade one of their core homegrown bats for starting pitching this offseason. Here's the latest on the club courtesy of The Kansas City Star's Bob Dutton...
- “I think it’s pretty safe to say he’s going to explore free agency,” said GM Dayton Moore, acknowledging that they're unlikely to agree to a new contract with Jeremy Guthrie during the exclusive negotiating period. “We’ll continue to monitor how that goes. He’s going to explore his options, and it’s important that we do as well.”
- Talks about a new contract with Joakim Soria are ongoing. The Royals are expected to buy the right-hander out of his $8MM option following his second Tommy John surgery. Moore described the discussions as "moving at (their) own pace."
- Geoff Baker of The Seattle Times notes that the Royals have been heavily scouting Mariners left-handed pitching prospect James Paxton in the Arizona Fall League. Dutton wonders if the two teams could work out a trade involving one of Kansas City's bats given Seattle's need for offense.
Rival teams say the Mariners have made many players untouchable in trades, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. However, a Seattle official tells Rosenthal the team is “wide open” on possible deals.
The list of untouchable players includes Felix Hernandez, Dustin Ackley, Kyle Seager, and prospects Taijuan Walker, Danny Hultzen, James Paxton and Nick Franklin, Rosenthal reports. Some executives question whether Ackley and Seager should be off-limits at this stage in their careers.
Mariners such as Jason Vargas, Kevin Millwood, Brandon League, Miguel Olivo and Brendan Ryan could draw interest this summer. GM Jack Zduriencik will be expected to consider trade offers for some veterans given Seattle's 36-51 record.
It took a year and a half, but James Paxton finally got paid. The Mariners announced the signing of the 2010 fourth round pick and, according to Jim Callis of Baseball America, the deal is worth $942.5K (Twitter links)
The Blue Jays selected Paxton 37th overall in the first round of the 2009 draft, but didn't sign him. The left-hander turned down slot money (approximately $874K), according to Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun (on Twitter). Paxton spent the 2010 season with the Grand Prairie AirHogs of the independent American Association after the NCAA ruled that he wasn’t eligible to resume his college career at the University of Kentucky.
Though most draftees have to sign by the middle of August, the deadline doesn’t apply to college seniors or players drafted out of independent leagues. ESPN.com's Keith Law first reported that the sides were close to a deal and Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times first reported the agreement.
The Mariners are close to signing James Paxton, their fourth round pick in the 2010 draft, according to ESPN.com’s Keith Law (on Twitter). The left-hander, formerly a top prospect, would provide the Mariners with another high-ceiling arm.
The Blue Jays selected Paxton 37th overall in the first round of the 2009 draft, but didn't sign him. Paxton spent the 2010 season with the Grand Prairie AirHogs of the independent American Association after the NCAA ruled that he wasn’t eligible to resume his college career at the University of Kentucky.
Though most draftees have to sign by the middle of August, the deadline doesn’t apply to college seniors or players drafted out of independent leagues.
Some news from baseball's western divisions....
- Rangers assistant GM Thad Levine gives ESPNDallas.com's Richard Durrett an update on negotiations between the team and arbitration-eligible Josh Hamilton. "I would characterize our communication as very open and strong....with each call we're making progress," Levine said.
- Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik tells The Seattle Times' Larry Stone that the team has had "a conversation or two over the course of the winter" with fourth-round draft pick James Paxton, who still remains unsigned. Paxton was selected 37th overall by the Blue Jays in the 2009 draft but didn't reach an agreement, and then couldn't return to college ball due to his association with agent Scott Boras.
- The Rockies may have ended their search for pitching depth, tweets Troy Renck of the Denver Post. Colorado was looking at Rodrigo Lopez and Mark Hendrickson, but those pursuits proved fruitless when the pitchers signed elsewhere (Lopez with the Braves, Hendrickson with the Orioles).
- The potential sale of a minority share of the Mets "could provide a clue" as to what will happen with the Dodgers' ownership situation once the McCourts settle their divorce case, writes Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times.
- Kameron Loe has a clause in his contract that allows him to ask for his release if he isn't in the major leagues by June 5th, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. Loe is pitching well for the Brewers' Triple A affiliate.
- Morosi also notes that Rich Hill, who is pitching at Triple A for the Cardinals, has a June 1st opt-out clause in his contract (Twitter link).
- Rocco Baldelli tells Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal that he hasn't thought about returning to the majors for a team other than the Rays. Baldelli says he would prefer the Rays to another organization.
- Omar Vizquel says he will likely retire if he doesn't finish the year well, according to Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times.
- The Rays released Eduardo Morlan and Cody Strait, according to Stacy Long of the Montgomery Advertiser. The Rays acquired Morlan in the Matt Garza-Delmon Young trade.
- Click here to listen to my appearance today with Jeff & Jeff of KFNS St. Louis.
- Yahoo's Jeff Passan tells the story of Sergio Santos, a converted shortstop who has a 0.52 ERA and 10.9 K/9 as a White Sox reliever.
- Baseball America's Jim Callis compares Manny Machado to other high school shortstops in recent draft history. Yesterday in his mock draft ESPN's Keith Law wrote that the Pirates have Machado and lefty Drew Pomeranz high on their list for the second overall pick.
- AOL FanHouse's Frankie Piliere is hearing buzz about the Reds considering Alex Wimmers with the #12 pick (Twitter link). Law had the Ohio State righty going 16th to the Cubs, picking catcher Yasmani Grandal for the Reds.
- Law ranked James Paxton 12th overall, but doesn't project the lefty as a first-round pick. Paxton, a Boras client, is now pitching independent ball after losing his NCAA eligibility. According to Matthew Sekeres of The Globe and Mail, Paxton has no ill will toward Paul Beeston and the Blue Jays.
Some links as we wonder what to make of the red-hot Padres...
- Ace Walker was the pitcher of the year in the independent Northern League last year, but he didn't get any calls from MLB teams over the winter, reports Adam Wazny of the Winnipeg Free Press.
- High schooler Tony Wolters, who was one of the top shortstops available in this year's draft, has been ruled ineligible, according to John Manuel of Baseball America.
- Rays manager Joe Maddon told Scott Miller of CBS Sports that the Rays have to operate with "one eye on the present and one on the future" to win with their budget.
- MLB.com's Chris Haft suggests the Giants could put Aubrey Huff in left field to make room for Buster Posey's bat at first base.
- RotoAuthority explains why it's a little early to talk about a Barry Zito renaissance.
- The Rangers would only consider trading Justin Smoak for a player who would put them "over the top," in the opinion of Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News.
- Joe Posnanski notes that Dayton Moore fired Trey Hillman days after praising him and suggests that the decision wasn't Moore's.
- Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski told Marc Carig of the Star Ledger that the Tigers were always confident in Austin Jackson's defense.
- The Nationals have the resources to make midseason moves if necessary, writes ESPN.com's Buster Olney.
- James Paxton, a sandwich pick the Blue Jays failed to sign last year, makes his independent league debut tonight. One scout told John Manuel of Baseball America that Paxton threw 88-90 mph and looked rusty in exhibition games.