James Shields Rumors

Heyman’s Latest: Dodgers/Hamels, Braves, Frazier, Price, Brewers, Upton

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports kicks off his weekly Inside Baseball column by reporting that the Dodgers have “quietly continued having dialogue with the Phillies” regarding Cole Hamels. The Dodgers are also giving serious consideration to the rental market and prioritizing Johnny Cueto over others among such targets. The Dodgers “appear determined” to land a top-of-the-rotation arm to pair with Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke, writes Heyman, but most executives think they’ll hold onto top prospects Corey Seager and Julio Urias. The Dodgers have a deep farm system beyond that pairing (righty Jose De Leon has recently been ranked a Top 25 prospect by Baseball America and ESPN), and one exec tells Heyman that the Phillies’ asking price on Hamels has become “more reasonable” recently. The Dodgers feel that Greinke is a lock to opt out of his contract at the end of the season, and while they could possibly re-sign him by adding a year or two to the deal and upping his $24.5MM AAV, Hamels would provide insurance should Greinke sign elsewhere. Jeff Samardzija is also a consideration for the Dodgers, but while they like him, they consider him more of a No. 2/3 starter and don’t love him.

Some more highlights from Heyman’s article, though the synopsis won’t cover everything within the piece, so I’d highly recommend reading it in its entirety…

  • The Braves will be deadline sellers, Heyman hears, with Jim Johnson, Juan Uribe and Cameron Maybin among the players that will be available to interested teams. Chris Johnson, too, continues to be available, but there are no takers for his contract, which Atlanta has aggressively tried to move in the past.
  • With the Reds expected to trade so many veterans to other clubs, many in the industry expect the team to make a run at extending Todd Frazier beyond his current two-year deal, Heyman writes. (Frazier has one more year of arbitration following his current pact.) Jeff Todd and I have discussed Frazier’s situation on the MLBTR Podcast in the past (and will do so again this afternoon), and I’ve personally taken the stance that given the significant commitments to Joey Votto and Homer Bailey, the Reds could have a difficult time affording Frazier, whose 2014-15 breakout has hugely inflated his price tag. Given the lack of impact bats on the trade market, Frazier would net a king’s ransom and could rapidly expedite the rebuilding process, though the PR hit of trading him with so much control and on the heels of a Home Run Derby victory would of course be significant.
  • In other Reds news, Heyman hears Mike Leake‘s ground-ball tendencies are appealing to AL East clubs, and he’s drawn interest from the Blue Jays, Orioles and Red Sox in addition to the Royals, Dodgers, Rangers, Cubs and Giants. Manny Parra and Marlon Byrd are both “likely to go” as well.
  • Asked about the possibility of signing with the Cubs this offseason due to his relationship with skipper Joe Maddon, Tigers ace David Price replied, “Wherever I play baseball next year it’s not going to be because of a manager.”
  • The Astros are interested in both Cueto and Leake, and Houston seems willing to deal from its glut of MLB-ready outfield prospects, including Domingo Santana and Preston Tucker. (Previous reports have indicated they’re reluctant to part with Brett Phillips, however, who may be the best among the outfield bunch.)
  • The Brewers are now showing a willingness to trade both Carlos Gomez and Jean Segura, Heyman hears. Though it was previously believed they were reluctant to move Segura, the emergence of Orlando Arcia (the younger brother of the Twins’ Oswaldo Arcia) may have changed Milwaukee’s thinking. However, Arcia himself is also drawing a huge amount of trade interest, and the Padres have called to express interest. One NL exec called him the best player he’s seen in the minors this year, while another comped him to Francisco Lindor, but said Arcia is better. Regarding Segura, Heyman hears that the Mets dislike his free-swinging approach.
  • The Twins aren’t closed off to the idea of re-acquiring Gomez from the Brewers, but their primary focus at this point is bullpen help.
  • The Mets are aiming high in their pursuit of an outfield bat and have both Gomez and Justin Upton on their radar. They’re not likely to add Aramis Ramirez from the Brewers unless they receive bad news on the prognosis of David Wright. They also have little interest in swinging a deal for Uribe.
  • Padres officials insist that they haven’t determined their course of action heading into the deadline, but Heyman writes that free-agents-to-be such as Upton, Ian Kennedy, Joaquin Benoit and Will Venable could be traded regardless. James Shields‘ backloaded contract limits his value, but one GM felt Benoit has “big value” and Heyman notes that Craig Kimbrel would be in huge demand as well, should the Padres try to recoup some value from that deal.
  • Cueto, Samardzija and Leake are atop the Blue Jays‘ wish list, and the team was also in talks with the Braves regarding Jason Grilli prior to his season-ending injury. A top starting pitcher is Toronto’s top priority at this point, says Heyman. He also adds that there’s no evidence to suggest that manager John Gibbons is on the hot seat.

Padres Asking Other Teams About James Shields

The Padres have asked teams about any possible interest in James Shields, Peter Gammons of GammonsDaily.com reports (Twitter link).  The extent of these discussions isn’t known, as the Padres could’ve been simply doing due diligence on trade scenarios rather than seriously gauging the right-hander’s market, though the fact that Shields’ name has been floated at all is a notable step.

Following today’s win over the Rangers, San Diego enters the All-Star break with a 41-49 record that puts them 10 games behind the Dodgers in the NL West and 7.5 games back of the Cubs for the second NL wild card spot.  It’s a disappointing spot for a Padres team that made several major additions last offseason, and yet GM A.J. Preller hinted that his club’s trade deadline goal was to reload for 2016 rather than rebuild.

Still, Preller also noted that Padres were open to all options and “the biggest thing we preach to our scouts is to just be prepared for all different scenarios.”  Dealing Shields would naturally present a far different “scenario” than dealing, say, a player on an expiring contract.  As others have noted, trading Shields just months after the veteran and San Diego-area native signed a large multi-year contract would hurt the Padres in the eyes of both the fans and future free agents who might think twice about signing with the club.

Shields has a 4.01 ERA, 3.28 K/BB rate and a career-best 10.1 K/9 over 116 2/3 innings this season.  Advanced metrics (3.30 xFIP, 3.25 SIERA) indicate that Shields’ 4.01 ERA is a bit high, as Shields has been hurt by a 17.9% home run rate — this number is not only well above Shields’ career average, it stands out even more as an outlier given that his home games are at one of baseball’s most notoriously pitcher-friendly ballparks.

Shields is guaranteed roughly $4.1MM for the remainder of this season, then $63MM over the 2016-18 seasons and a $16MM club option (with a $2MM buyout) for 2019.  That’s a lot of salary for a 33-year-old hurler, yet since Shields can opt out after the 2016 season, a trading team might prefer such a potentially medium-sized commitment rather than deal for a pitcher on a guaranteed long deal (i.e. Cole Hamels) or one who can enter free agency this winter.


Padres Notes: Shields, Kimbrel, Grandal

Despite a disappointing 39-49 season thus far, the Padres aren’t planning a complete rebuild, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune writes. “We think we’re smarter to put all of our energy into competing year after year after year,” says Padres lead investor Peter Seidler. “We think that’s what the fans want, we think that’s what San Diego wants, and we know that’s what we want.” The Padres’ plans also won’t be dictated by the fact that they host next year’s All-Star Game either, however. “I think ultimately, we’re going to make decisions that are for the best of the franchise and not say, ‘Hey, we have to be at this point because we have the All-Star Game in San Diego next year,'” says GM A.J. Preller. The Padres have a few key players set for free agency after the season, including Justin Upton, Ian Kennedy and Will Venable. Many of their other key players, though, including James Shields, Craig Kimbrel, Tyson Ross, Andrew Cashner, Derek Norris, Yonder Alonso, Wil Myers and Matt Kemp, are under control beyond this season, so they could conceivably make another run at contention next year. That could be tricky, however, given the talent they parted with to acquire many of those players. Here’s more out of San Diego.

  • Some in the Padres organization believe the team should trade Shields this summer, promoting him as a lower-cost option than Cole Hamels, ESPN’s Buster Olney writes (subscription only). There’s also belief within the organization that they should consider trading Kimbrel as well. Olney suggests Shields (who will make $21MM in each of the next three seasons, plus a $2MM buyout or a $16MM option in 2019) could make sense for the Cubs, Blue Jays or Dodgers. If the Padres were to trade players like Shields and Kimbrel, though, the question would be how they would explain such an abrupt change of course to their fan base.
  • Catcher Yasmani Grandal feels the Padres didn’t handle him well, Matt Calkins of the Union-Tribune writes. The team had Andrew Cashner, Tyson Ross and Ian Kennedy all pitch to Rene Rivera, leaving Grandal without enough playing time to find a rhythm at the plate. Grandal thought Padres pitchers should be throwing inside early in counts, and the pitchers disagreed. Also, his 2013 PED suspension might have led to further distrust in the Padres clubhouse. This season, Grandal has hit .276/.398/.519 and framed pitches well after heading to the Dodgers in the Kemp deal, while Padres pitchers have struggled.


NL West Notes: Lyles, Olivera, Shields, Myers

Rockies starter Jordan Lyles has apparently escaped last night’s injury scare with nothing more than a significant bruise on his right hand, Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post tweets. Lyles says he hopes to make his next start, though it is probably too soon to tell whether he’ll miss some action. The 24-year-old was struck on his throwing hand by an Albert Pujols comebacker last night, with the subsequent swelling leading many to fear that he may have suffered a fracture. Lyles and Eddie Butler have arguably been the Rockies’ most consistent starters this season.

More from the NL West…

  • Hector Olivera is expected to arrive in Los Angeles tonight, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports (Twitter link).  The Cuban infielder will take his physical and, presuming all is well, his agreement with the Dodgers will finally be official.
  • James Shields is delivering on the mound and in the clubhouse for the Padres, leading USA Today’s Bob Nightengale to wonder if the several teams who passed on Shields this winter are now second-guessing their decision.
  • Wil Myers has tendinitis in his left wrist as the Padres hope that a few days of rest will help the outfielder avoid a DL stint, MLB.com’s Corey Brock tweets.  Myers underwent surgery on his right wrist last year, though he was dealing with an existing left wrist injury at that time as well.
  • Don Mattingly deserves credit for keeping the Dodgers in first place despite several key injuries and some underperforming stars, Joel Sherman of the New York Post opines.  There have been rumors that the team’s new front office could bring in their own manager after the season is over or if the Dodgers struggled, yet Sherman feels Mattingly is staking his claim as a long-term answer in the dugout.
  • Despite the growing buzz surrounding Troy Tulowitzki‘s name, a source tells the Record’s Matt Ehalt that the Mets haven’t changed their thoughts on acquiring the longtime star shortstop. Ehalt cites Tulowitzki’s injury history, the money remaining on his contract and a repeated unwillingness from the Mets to part with top-tier pitching prospects. Wilmer Flores, who homered today, has shown good pop but questionable on-base skills and defense in his first extended look at shortstop in the Majors.
  • Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports discussed the Rockies in his latest piece, writing that it’s “obvious to everyone” but Rockies owner Dick Monfort that the time to trade Tulowitzki has come. However, rather than look to begin moving pieces in the wake of a 10-game losing streak, the Rockies are still actively searching for starting pitching in hopes of improving the club. Rosenthal notes that the second wild card spot in each league can often act as “fool’s gold,” leading teams without legitimate hopes of contending to delay, or in some cases, refuse to sell off pieces with an eye toward the future.

Cafardo On Wieters, Bradley, Giants

In today’s column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes that the Red Sox spent a lot of time with Jon Lester trying to get him over his fear of throwing to bases.  It’s an issue that the Cubs will have to address if it arises again and Cafardo is surprised that more opposing teams haven’t tried to pounce on that perceived weakness.  That could change, however, as he hears that one team already is looking forward to testing him this season.  Here’s more from today’s column..

  • Orioles GM Dan Duquette twice has tried to engage in extension talks with Matt Wieters’s agent, Scott Boras, but now it doesn’t appear that the sides will get together before Wieters becomes a free agent.  After missing most of 2014, Wieters will earn $8.3MM in his final year of arbitration.  The 28-year-old was hitting .308/.339/.500 in 112 plate appearances before right elbow issues forced him to undergo Tommy John surgery.
  • Scouts are beginning to at least discuss what the Red Sox may need to receive in order to part with Jackie Bradley in a trade.  The Sox don’t appear to be in that mode right now, but there are teams who feel Bradley will turn things around at the plate because he’s hit at every level except the majors. “I think Chili Davis is going to be good for him,” said one scout of Boston’s new hitting coach. “I think he needs someone with a tough approach and Chili isn’t afraid to give someone some tough love.”  There has been a great deal of trade talk around Bradley this offseason and Joel Sherman of the New York Post recently suggested that the Braves could make sense as a landing spot.
  • Giants assistant GM Bobby Evans told Cafardo that the team offered James Shields a five-year, $80MM contract not long after Jon Lester agreed to join the Cubs.Evans said that Shields wanted time to explore other offers, however, and the timing wasn’t right.  A previous report indicated that the Giants made Shields a four-year, $80MM pitch, which is the same length as his deal with the Padres, but worth $5MM more.  Shields’ agent Page Odle said in February that his client received more than one offer with a higher AAV than the one he ultimately accepted from the Padres.
  • Before Daniel Bard signed a minor league deal with the Cubs this winter, the Red Sox considered bringing him back.  Now that early reports are indicating that Bard is throwing hard and possibly cured of the yips that have troubled him the last couple of years, the Cubs must be glad that they decided to give him another chance.
  • While many scouts believe that the Dodgers’ offense won’t be as productive without Matt Kemp, many also believe that he will hurt the Padres‘ defense.  “Everyone raves about the Padres with Kemp, but they’re going to find some things they’re not going to like, and I’ll leave it at that,” said one scout.  For his career, Kemp has a -13.9 UZR/150 rating in the outfield.

NL East Notes: Braves, Minor, Peraza, Marlins

ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark recently took a look in at an interesting Braves camp. With so much roster turnover, stars Craig Kimbrel and Freddie Freeman each split the cost of t-shirts with “Hi, my name is” labels to help the new teammates get acquainted. Both Kimbrel and Freeman also emphasized that they had no problems with the team’s offseason shuffling and still believed Atlanta would be competitive. Nevertheless, Kimbrel acknowledges the possibility that circumstances could change. “I made a commitment with the organization that I wanted to be here in Atlanta,” he said. “And them not trading me this offseason shows that they want me here as well. But you know, it is a business, so at any time, that can change. I think, as a player, anyone understands that aspect of the game. … So when moves are made, they may not always be what you like. But it may be what’s best for the team that you’re on at the time.”

Here’s more from the NL East:

  • The Braves have scratched lefty Mike Minor from his first scheduled spring outing because he is experiencing tightness in his left shoulder, Mark Bowman of MLB.com reports (Twitter links). According to Bowman, this likely means that Minor will not be ready to take a rotation spot to open the year, as the club will look to avoid another season of ongoing shoulder troubles. The 27-year-old, a key component of the team’s turnaround efforts, is earning $5.6MM this year after defeating Atlanta in arbitration. He comes with two additional seasons of control through arbitration.
  • Braves skipper Fredi Gonzalez says that he hopes to “convince some people in the front office” to break camp with top prospect Jose Peraza on the roster, as Bowman reports. While his comment was made somewhat in jest, he did note that the coaching staff is split as to whether the speedy 21-year-old is ready for the bigs. Even if he is ready, that may not be enough to sway new president of baseball operations John Hart and top lieutenant John Coppolella. After all, Atlanta has brought in a good number of veteran options to fill out its infield and will surely be loath to sacrifice a year of control given the organization’s current priorities.
  • The Marlins‘ best offer to James Shields was for three years and $50MM with a vesting option, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports. Miami “badly wanted Shields,” says Heyman, but the failure to land him (or fellow free agent target Francisco Rodriguez) has not dampened the enthusiasm of recently-extended superstar Giancarlo Stanton over the team’s busy offseason.

NL Notes: Shields, Guerrero, Marlins

James Shields is already providing value to the Padres, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune writes. “Having him in here is going to be super valuable for this pitching staff,” says Tyson Ross. Shields has impressed the Padres with his attitude and his preparation — he’s already showed many of his teammates his personal book of scouting charts on opposing players. Ross and Robbie Erlin add that they’re looking forward to watching Shields work to see how he stays so durable — Shields has pitched over 200 innings in eight straight seasons, and as Lin notes, Ian Kennedy is the only other Padres starter who’s reached the 200-inning threshold. Here’s more from the National League.

  • Infielder Alex Guerrero is facing a crucial year in Dodgers camp, MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez writes. Guerrero, who’s now in the second year of a four-year deal, cannot be optioned to the minors this season without his permission, so if the Dodgers don’t find space for him on their active roster, they’ll have to to trade or release him. “I don’t want to go down. I’m not going down,” Guerrero says. “I feel like I can get better here at this level and play every day. I think that’s what every player wants.” Guerrero, 28, hit well at Triple-A last season even given the offense-heavy environment at Albuquerque, batting .329/.364/.613 in 258 plate appearances. The Dodgers have a crowded middle infield, however, with Justin Turner and Darwin Barney also available to back up Howie Kendrick at second base, and there are questions about Guerrero’s defense.
  • The Marlins still have plenty of prospect depth despite their offseason trades, president of baseball operations Michael Hill tells Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. The Marlins dealt Andrew Heaney, Austin Barnes, Anthony DeSclafani and others this offseason, but they still have top 2014 pick Tyler Kolek, along with Justin Nicolino, Trevor Williams, Avery Romero and other solid prospects. Catcher J.T. Realmuto and pitcher Jose Urena top their list of prospects further up the chain. “We have a lot of upper level prospect depth,” says Hill.

NL West Notes: Shields, Hatcher, Quentin, Ethier

Some might be worried about James Shields‘ mileage catching up to him but Padres GM A.J. Preller doesn’t agree with that assessment, Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com writes.

You say, ‘OK, eight years with 200 innings pitched,’ and you can look at it both ways,” said Preller. “We debated it when we were talking about James, and obviously we’re betting that there are quite a few more years of that left…When you study it, there’s nothing definitive that says, ‘Once you turn 33 and have a certain amount of innings, that’s the end of the day.’ You look up and see guys — whether it’s Tim Hudson or Mark Buehrle or a lot of guys — and they’re still doing it. We think with James’ makeup and athleticism, he’s going to be a guy who’ll take the ball for us the next four years in San Diego.”

Here’s more from the NL West..

  • Reliever Chris Hatcher was more than a throw-in in the trade that sent Dee Gordon, Miguel Rojas and Dan Haren to the Marlins, Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com writes. “He was a guy we targeted,” Dodgers GM Farhan Zaidi said. “To start off the season, he may be even more important than we anticipated.”  The 29-year-old converted catcher has less than 90 big league innings on his odometer, meaning that he won’t be arbitration eligible until 2017.
  • Padres veteran Carlos Quentin is trying out first base and that could give rival teams an opportunity to evaluate him and possibly get the ball rolling on a trade, Dennis Lin of U-T San Diego writes.  “It can increase value as a player to have versatility,” Quentin said. “It gives (the Padres) an idea of how I might fit in here, possibly. It gives other teams an idea of how I might fit in there. It can only be a good thing.”  Quentin also reiterated his openness to waiving his no-trade clause to move to an AL team.
  • Andre Ethier, who wants to start in 2015 whether it’s for the Dodgers or another team, doesn’t see himself as a threat to take the starting job away from Joc Pederson in center field. “I just don’t think that’s where I’m best suited to play every day,” said Ethier, according to Bill Plunkett of the OC Register. “If you’re 33 you get moved out of center field. You don’t get moved to center field. For me to say all of a sudden, I’m going to be an option in center field that’s a far reach and a far stretch.”

West Notes: Shields, Rangers, Saunders

James Shields rejected a four-year, $80MM offer from the Giants before signing with the Padres for $5MM less, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman writes. The Giants rescinded the offer once they re-signed Jake Peavy, however, so by the time Shields actually signed, the Cubs and Marlins were probably the Padres’ top rivals for Shields. Shields’ agent, Page Odle, says his client received more than one offer with a higher average annual value than the one he ultimately accepted from the Padres, confirming that Shields’ desires to play near his home outside San Diego and to for a revamped Padres team were quite strong. Odle implies, though, that another factor might have been that the Giants’ offer simply came too early in the offseason, and that he and Shields wanted more time to make a decision. Odle also says he and Shields did not reject a $110MM offer, as had been reported last month. Here are more notes from the West divisions.

  • The Rangers have three pitchers in Yu Darvish, Yovani Gallardo and Neftali Feliz who look like they could be extension candidates, but the team has no plans to extend any of them during Spring Training, MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan writes. “There is nothing in the works right now,” says GM Jon Daniels. Darvish is signed through 2017, but can become a free agent a year earlier if he wins a Cy Young award in one of the next two seasons or finishes between second and fourth in both of them. “Counterintuitively, I’m rooting for him to be able to void that last year,” says Daniels, suggesting that the year lost will be positive if Darvish performs well enough to finish at or near the top in Cy Young balloting in one or both of the next two seasons.
  • Manager Lloyd McClendon says the Mariners will use newly signed lefty Joe Saunders purely as a reliever, MLB.com’s Greg Johns tweets. The 33-year-old Saunders has pitched almost his entire career as a starter, but he made six relief appearances for the Orioles last season.

Angels Notes: Street, Stadium, Luxury Tax, Shields

Huston Street told reporters yesterday that he’s seeking a four-year extension (beginning with the 2015 season, meaning it would override his current deal) worth something between the contracts signed by Andrew Miller ($36MM) and David Robertson ($46MM) this offseason. Street, interestingly, is acting as his own agent, and Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times has some quotes from the closer explaining the reasoning behind that decision. “I think agents are beneficial to a lot of guys who are fringe players or superstars,” Street told reporters. “How do you say no to $130 million and end up getting $180 million? It takes an agent. I’m not one of those guys. I’m pretty slotted within a range of what I believe is fair, of guys I’m comparable to. I don’t have anything negative toward agents. I just felt like I could handle my own business.”

Today, Angels owner Arte Moreno met with the media and offered up several more items that should be of interest to Halo fans. MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez has the highlights

  • The Angels have gotten “nowhere” with the city of Anaheim in regards to talks for a new lease for Angel Stadium. The team is able to opt out of the lease beginning in 2016 and as late as 2019, Gonzalez writes. If they stay beyond that point, the lease then runs through 2029. Moreno said there are no intention to restart talks at this time. Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register adds that while Moreno wouldn’t comment on the viability of other locations, he did say “we’re still looking at opportunities.”
  • Moreno isn’t completely opposed to running into the luxury tax threshold of $189MM as long as the team would only exceed that payroll level for one year. Moreno feels the team has about $10-15MM to spend on in-season additions if necessary.
  • The Angels “took a peek” at James Shields this offseason but never made a formal offer. Moreno says the team had interest in Shields on a three-year deal but wasn’t interested in going beyond that length of contract. Shields, of course, signed a four-year, $75MM contract with the Padres earlier this month.