Jarred Cosart Rumors

Quick Hits: Scioscia, Brantley, Cosart, Marmol, Garza

Today is Cinco de Mayo, a celebration of Mexican heritage, pride, and culture. The holiday traces its roots to the Battle of Puebla in 1862 where the undermanned Mexican army defeated the French, regarded as having the world's premier army at the time. More than 100 Mexican nationals have played Major League baseball, including Cardinals' lefty Jaime Garcia and Brewers' righty Marco Estrada. The pair squared off against each other at Miller Park this afternoon in the first-ever matchup between two Mexican-born starting pitchers on Cinco de Mayo and the 37th such meeting overall (per the Brewers via the Elias Sports Bureau). Garcia was masterful scattering eight hits across eight innings in the Cardinals' 10-1 victory. Estrada, meanwhile, channelled the French army allowing eight runs and six hits while issuing a career-high five walks (two with the bases loaded). Adding insult to injury, Chorizo lost the Sausage Race (h/t Adam McCalvy of MLB.com via Twitter). Por otras partes en béisbol:

  • Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com believes Angels manager Mike Scioscia needs a fresh start and proposes the Dodgers as the most obvious possibility. Rosenthal notes owner Artie Moreno would recoil at the idea of Scioscia managing the crosstown rivals, but the Angels would be better for it if they could obtain a significant player or two in a John Farrell-style trade. 
  • Indians outfielder Michael Brantley hasn't heard anything about contract negotiations and that's by design, reports the Cleveland Plain Dealer's Paul Hoynes. "Once the season starts, it's time for me to concentrate on baseball," Brantley said. "I don't need distractions like that. If my agents have anything going on, they'll get in touch with me."
  • The Astros have dropped Erik Bedard from the starting rotation and need a starter for Friday's game against the Rangers. MLB.com's Brian McTaggart doesn't sense the Astros are in a rush to start the service clock of top prospect Jarred Cosart, who is 3-0 with a 2.63 ERA and 9.5 K/9 in 27 1/3 innings for Triple-A Oklahoma City. Cosart's next scheduled start is tomorrow night. 
  • Cubs manager Dale Sveum told reporters, including Bruce Miles of the Daily Herald, Carlos Marmol's status remains unchanged a day after he failed to retire any of the three batters he faced (two walks and one HBP). "Obviously he had a bad outing and couldn’t throw strikes," said Sveum. "Like I said he’s one of the seven guys, and he’s got to pitch, and we’ll get him back out there in some fashion. You can’t hide people. They have to pitch." Marmol pitched a perfect sixth inning today.
  • Matt Garza will pitch his second minor league rehab start tomorrow for Triple-A Iowa, writes Carrie Muskat of MLB.com. Garza, number seven on MLBTR's 2014 Free Agent Power Rankings, is scheduled to throw three innings.

Transaction Retrospection: The First Hunter Pence Trade

The Astros entered 2013 with a shockingly low payroll by today's standards thanks to a number of offseason trades that were intended to boost their farm system. It's nothing new for Houston — a team that hasn't finished above .500 since the 2008 season. General manager Jeff Luhnow and his staff have done a terrific job of amassing young talent to build promise for the future, but the first step may have been taken by Luhnow's predecessor — Ed Wade.

In July 2011, the last-place Astros had a number of desireable pieces on their roster, but perhaps none more appealing than Hunter Pence. The 28-year-old right fielder was hitting .308/.356/.471 with 11 homers when the Astros traded him to the Phillies (along with $2MM) for a package of four prospects: first baseman Jonathan Singleton (19 years old at the time), right-hander Jarred Cosart (21), right-hander Josh Zeid (24) and right fielder Domingo Santana (18).

Let's look at all of the players involved…

The Major League Side

  • Hunter Pence: The Phillies acquired a year-and-a-half of Pence's service in the deal. He slid into the Phillies' lineup and immediately provided a boost. Pence had homered 11 times in 100 games for the Astros but matched that total in just 54 games for the Phils. He closed out the season on a torrid pace, hitting .324/.394/.560 in 236 trips to the plate as the Phillies marched to a 102-win season and a first-place finish. Pence's second season with the Phillies Pence didn't go as well; his Musial-esque 159 OPS+ dropped to 108, and he was eventually traded to the Giants for a package of players highlighted by catcher Tommy Joseph (that trade could be a whole new post). All told, the Phillies parted with four prospects and were rewarded with 676 plate appearances worth of .289/.357/.486 production and average right field defense. Fangraphs pegs Pence's value in Phildelphia at 3.6 wins above replacement.

The Minor League Side

  • Jonathan Singleton: Singleton has emerged as the best prospect in this deal (Cosart, at the time, was regarded slightly higher). Baseball America ranked him as the game's 39th-best prospect prior to 2011, and he now occupies the No. 27 spot on that list. MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo agrees with that ranking and places him first among Astros prospects. BA calls Singleton "the best first base prospect in baseball," noting his plus raw power and ability to hit to all fields. Mayo agrees that he's the best first base prospect in the game, and both think that Singleton could be in the Majors as soon as this season. He hit .284/.396/.497 with 21 homers as a 20-year-old at Double-A last season. Houston fans will have to wait, however, as Singleton is serving a 50-game suspension after testing positive for marijuana.
  • Jarred Cosart: Cosart's stock has fallen after a 2012 season that was slowed by recurring blisters on his pitching hand. He still posted a solid 3.30 ERA, 7.2 K/9 and 4.0 BB/9 in 114 2/3 innings between Double-A and Triple-A. He's fallen out of BA's Top 100 and ranks as Houston's No. 7 prospect in their eyes, but Mayo is more of a believer; he ranks Cosart No. 89 in the game and No. 4 in the Astros' system. Both feel that Cosart's stock would soar if he could improve his command of a plus curveball with 11-to-5 break, as it would complement what BA refers to an "electric" fastball that sits 96-97 mph. Some feel that Cosart could end up as a closer, but control of his curveball could have him sitting atop Houston's rotation in the near future.
  • Domingo Santana: Santana, the youngest player in the trade, was included as a PTBNL and viewed a high-risk prospect. He's emerged as the team's No. 11 prospect per BA and No. 13 prospect per Mayo. BA writes that he has significant raw power and an advanced opposite-field approach to pair with enough athleticism to develop into a regular right fielder if things break right. Mayo concurs with that analysis and notes that he has "an outstanding arm that fits perfectly in right field, along with his offensive profile."
  • Josh Zeid: Zeid doesn't rank among the Top 30 prospects in Houston's system per BA or the Top 20 per Mayo, but he ranked as Philadelphia's 23rd prospect at the time of the trade. BA credited Zeid with the best slider in Philly's farm system following the 2010 season, noting that his fastball can reach 97 mph when he's serving in a relief role. That's exactly what he's done since coming to Houston, but he posted an ugly 5.59 ERA in 56 1/3 innings at Double-A last season. However, his 10.5 K/9, 3.2 BB/9 and strong 3.52 FIP suggest that there are better times ahead for the 26-year-old. He's pitching at Triple-A Oklahoma City to open this season.

The Phillies gave up quite a bit of talent in order to land Pence, and the Astros are clearly better off for it. Twenty percent of the players in Houston's Top 15 prospects were acquired via this trade, and while there are question marks surrounding some of them, Singleton's future looks more certain. Philadelphia, meanwhile, received a boost to their lineup that helped cement a division championship. GM Ruben Amaro Jr. was able to flip Pence one year later to recoup some of the prospect value that he gave up in order to land Pence.

The Phillies got precisely what they were hoping for in Pence, but the Astros appear to be better positioned for the long-haul as a result. Scenarios like this are often the case when dealing prospects for short-term help at the Major League level. Had the Phillies won a World Series title in 2011, there wouldn't be much second-guessing the trade. As it stands, Houston picked up enough future upside that they could eventually make Philadelphia fans regret the deal.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Hunter Pence Trade Reactions And Fallout

The Phillies love to make a big splash at the trade deadline and they continued the trend this year by acquiring Hunter Pence from the Astros for Jarred Cosart, Jonathan Singleton, Josh Zeid, and a player to be named later.  Let's take a look at some reactions to the deal from around the baseball world:

  • Up until late yesterday, the Astros were looking to get even more out of the Phillies, tweets Jayson Stark of ESPN.com.  Houston insisted that the Phillies had to include two more of their top ten prospects, including 2010 first-round pick Jesse Biddle.
  • Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. will continue to listen to other teams up until the trade deadline on Sunday, but he's likely done trading after landing Pence, writes Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
  • Astros GM Ed Wade was still talking to other teams until ten minutes before he made the deal with the Phillies, tweets Bob Brookover of Philadelphia Inquirer.
  • Keith Law of ESPN.com (Insider subscription required) believes that the Astros took a considerable risk in dealing Pence.  While they received a ton of potential long-term value, the major prospects coming over in the trade are high-risk, high-reward prospects.
  • Wade's decision to trade Pence certainly isn't a popular one but it is the right move for the organization, writes Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com.
  • Richard Justice of the Houston Chronicle writes that it could take two years or longer to fairly judge the return that the Astros got for Pence.
  • Phillies officials have questioned Cosart's maturity in the past, according to John Manuel and Matt Eddy of Baseball America.  Furthermore, the right-hander's command issues led others in the organization to believe he was destined wind up in the bullpen.  However, Cosart had the best pure arm in the Phillies' system.


Phillies Acquire Hunter Pence

Last year it was Roy Oswalt, the year before Cliff Lee.  This year, Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. continued his July 29th big-game hunting by landing All-Star right fielder Hunter Pence and $2MM from the Astros for prospects Jarred CosartJonathan Singleton, and Josh Zeid, as well as a player to be named later.  The Phillies confirmed the deal through a press release.

Pence

Pence, 28, was hitting .309/.356/.472 in 430 plate appearances entering tonight's game at Milwaukee.  He plays an average right field, based on UZR data since 2010.  Perhaps the face of the Astros franchise, Pence was not initially thought to be available this summer with the Astros in the middle of an ownership transfer.  He's much more than a rental, with $2.3MM remaining on his contract this year and team control through 2013.  Pence's agents at Beverly Hills Sports Council had a big arbitration win in January, bringing his 2011 salary to $6.9MM and raising the bar for '12 and '13.  The right-handed hitting Pence (pictured) fits perfectly into right field for the Phillies, who rank 14th in the NL with a .665 OPS against lefties after losing Jayson Werth during the offseason. The Braves, Indians, Reds, Red Sox, and Pirates were also in on Pence this month.

Cosart, 21, ranks as high as 17th by ESPN's Keith Law and as low as 43rd by Baseball America among the game's prospects.  He dealt with an elbow injury last year, but has the electric fastball and plus curveball of a future front-rotation starter.  Added bonus: he grew up just south of Houston, in League City, Texas.

Cosart's High-A teammate Jonathan Singleton, 19, was ranked #24 by Law and #41 by BA.  Law says Singleton has "one of the best swings in the minors."  Zeid, a 24-year-old Double-A righty, was ranked 23rd among Phillies prospects by BA prior to the season and has been exceptional out of the bullpen this year.  The player to be named later won't be a top prospect, tweets ESPN's Jayson Stark, and will come from a list of players currently in Low-A ball.  

In acquiring Cosart and Singleton, Astros GM Ed Wade added a couple of excellent prospects to a farm system generally regarded as one of the five worst in baseball prior to the season.  Whether or not the move is popular with fans, it's the right direction for the Astros.

Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi broke the story, with Jayson StarkJim Salisbury, and Jon Heyman adding detail.  Photo courtesy of Icon SMI.


Phillies To Acquire Hunter Pence

8:54pm: Pitching prospect Josh Zeid will also go to the Astros in the deal, tweets Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly.  SI's Jon Heyman adds that the Astros will pay $1MM to the Phillies in the trade.

8:42pm: The Astros are also sending cash to the Phillies in the deal, tweets ESPN's Jayson Stark.

8:16pm: Pence has been removed from tonight's game against the Brewers, tweets MLB.com's Brian McTaggart.  He's getting hugs in the dugout.

7:49pm: The Phillies are close to acquiring Pence, tweets Rosenthal.  He says a deal is expected to be completed tonight.  Jon Paul Morosi tweets that first baseman Jonathan Singleton and righty Jarred Cosart are in the deal.  Rosenthal says the Astros will also get two players to be named later in the deal – one of whom may be announced tonight – and they are not major prospects.

6:42pm: The Phillies and Astros are progressing toward a deal for right fielder Hunter Pence, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.  He says talks "are to point where another team will need to trump the Phillies with a superior package," and agrees with ESPN's Buster Olney that the Braves are still trying.  Jerry Crasnick tweets that the Braves still think they're right in the race for Pence.


Hunter Pence Very Likely To Be Traded?

We learned yesterday that the Astros are deep into trade talks for Hunter Pence and that a deal could be completed today. The Phillies, who appear to be willing to include Jarred Cosart, Jonathan Singleton and others in a deal, may have a Friday pre-deadline for reaching an agreement, so that the Astros have time to explore deals with other suitors, like the Braves, Reds and Red Sox. The Pirates, Rangers and Angels aren't seriously in the mix at this point. Here are today's rumors with the latest updates up top:

  • The Braves are looking to be creative and are still involved, tweets ESPN's Buster Olney.
  • Pence is very likely to be moved now, tweets SI's Jon Heyman.  He believes the Phillies are the favorite, with the Indians, Red Sox, and Reds also in.
  • A two-team swap remains the Astros' focus, reports MLB.com's Brian McTaggart.  Indeed, ESPN's Jayson Stark says there's no more talk of three-team deals.
  • The Braves have not considered Pence a priority, reports MLB.com's Mark Bowman.  However, Ken Rosenthal tweets that they seek an athletic corner bat who is controlled beyond this year, and Pence fits that description.  
  • The Phillies currently have no intention of putting Brown in a deal for Pence, tweets Buster Olney.
  • Jon Heyman of SI.com suggests the Phillies will continue negotiating with the Astros until Sunday if they need to, since Pence "is the guy" for them (Twitter link).
  • The Astros want pitching for Pence, according to Heyman (on Twitter).
  • The Phillies and Astros are exploring potential three-team deals involving Pence, according to ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark. Jon Heyman of SI.com and Joel Sherman of the New York Post agree (Twitter links). The Phillies may be willing to trade Brown to a third team to get the prospects the Astros want for Pence, Stark writes.
  • The Braves offered a package that included prospects they didn’t offer to the Mets for Carlos Beltran, but the Astros turned the offer down, according to Stark. The Braves may be moving on, which would leave the Phillies as Pence’s primary suitor.  The Red Sox, Reds, Pirates and Indians appear to have peeled off, according to Stark.
  • Jon Heyman of SI (via Twitter) hears that the Astros don't love the Phillies' prospects, and that may even include Domonic Brown.
  • Houston is still playing the Pence market and working to bring other teams into the mix besides the Phillies, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.
  • The Astros would prefer to deal Pence to the Braves, but Atlanta continues to be very protective of their big-time pitching prospects, tweets Jon Heyman of SI.  The Phillies are still working to get something done.
  • Joel Sherman of the New York Post hears that the Astros prefer the Braves' prospects to the Phillies' prospects (Twitter link). Atlanta won't give up the "key guy," who is believed to be Mike Minor, Sherman writes.
  • ESPN.com's Buster Olney reports that the Braves, generally speaking, have zero enthusiasm about giving up Minor, Julio Teheran, Arodys Vizcaino or Randall Delgado (Twitter link).
  • Pence was told during last night's game that he was being pulled because of a trade, then wasn't pulled, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com (on Twitter).
  • The Reds are in on Pence, but he's the Phillies' to lose, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter).
  • There's a sense that the Phillies might be able to obtain Pence by offering Domonic Brown instead of Singleton and including Cosart in the deal, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com (on Twitter).
  • The Astros still have an "unreasonable" asking price for Pence, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com (on Twitter).
  • There's a "huge bidding war" going on for Pence, according to ESPN.com's Buster Olney (on Twitter links). The Braves don't value on-base percentage as much as other teams, one NL official told Olney (Pence has a .354 OBP).

Hunter Pence Rumors: Wednesday

Hunter Pence has the ability to shake up the trade market for bats; here's the latest…

  • It appears more and more that Pence is staying put, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com (on Twitter).
  • The Phillies have been aggressive in pursuing Pence and there are indications that they would include Domonic Brown in a trade for him, according to Jim Salisburyof CSNPhilly.com. The Astros are looking for multiple top prospects for Pence, the Phillies' top target.
  • It appears that nothing will happen with Pence now and the Astros will look to trade him in the offseason instead, reports Danny Knobler of CBS Sports.  Knobler says the Phillies "almost certainly won't get Pence."  By the way, Pence's absence from the Astros' lineup tonight is not the sign of a trade but rather just a day off.
  • The Braves are turning their attention to Pence, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.  Another target, Carlos Beltran, is believed to be going to the Giants.
  • Two front office men, neither from the Astros or Phillies, told ESPN's Jayson Stark they believed the Phillies had a deal for Pence in the last 24 hours only to have the Astros back off.  The Phillies offered Jarred Cosart, Jonathan Singelton, and a second-tier pitching prospect for Pence, believes Stark.  An Astros official told Stark they haven't said no to any specific proposal, however.
  • The Astros want a "very top pitching prospect" for Pence, tweets SI's Jon Heyman, and the Phillies are trying hard.  However, Heyman says most believe Pence will stay put.

Carlos Beltran Rumors: Monday

MLBTR readers would trade for B.J. Upton over Carlos Beltran, but one GM said to Yahoo's Jeff Passan, "Upton and Rasmus are better long term, but if I want to win this year, I'm getting Beltran." Yesterday we learned that Beltran has a list of seven NL teams to which he will accept a trade, though publicly he expressed a willingness to play for the Rangers and Red Sox when asked by a reporter about the five most interested clubs. The Giants, Braves, and Phillies are seen as more likely. Today's Beltran rumors, with the newest at top:

  • Joel Sherman of the New York Post believes the Rangers are pushing hardest for Beltran, followed by the Braves and Red Sox. The Giants and Phillies appear to be fading, Sherman writes (on Twitter).
  • The Rangers and Giants appear to be ahead of the Phillies and Braves in pursuit of Beltran, according to ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick (on Twitter). As Crasnick points out, everything can change quickly.
  • There isn't much confidence within the industry that the Mets will obtain a top prospect for Beltran, according to Newsday's Ken Davidoff.
  • Beltran said yesterday that he has had "zero" contact with GM Sandy Alderson regarding possible trades, according to Newsday's David Lennon (on Twitter).
  • The Phillies have cooled on the idea of trading for Beltran, according to ESPN.com's Jayson Stark.
  • Beltran told Mike Puma of the New York Post, "I have not told (the Mets) I won't play for an American League team. I don't know where that is coming from" (Twitter link).  Beltran said he's fine with the American League as long as he doesn't have to DH. 
  • There's no sign of the Mets dropping their price on Beltran, tweets ESPN's Jerry Crasnick.
  • The Giants and Phillies continue to be the favorites with the Braves still in the mix, tweets Yahoo's Tim Brown.
  • The Giants, Red Sox, and Pirates could take on the most money in a Beltran deal, opined one executive to Joel Sherman of the New York Post (Twitter link).
  • As with B.J. Upton, the Braves don't appear willing to give up Julio Teheran, Randall Delgado, Mike Minor, or Arodys Vizcaino for Beltran, tweets ESPN's Buster Olney.
  • The Mets are "expected to finish evaluation of rival farm systems in next day or two" in preparation for a Beltran trade, tweets ESPN's Buster Olney.
  • The Phillies are saying top pitching prospect Jarred Cosart is unavailable in a deal, especially for a rental like Beltran, reports Passan.  A scout from the Phillies will be at the Mets' game tonight in Cincinnati, tweets ESPN's Adam Rubin.
  • The Rangers ramped up their pursuit of Beltran in the last 36 hours, says Passan.
  • The Giants aren't close to acquiring Beltran, GM Brian Sabean told reporters yesterday.

Stark On Shields, Melky, Soria, Marlins

Astros GM Ed Wade has been determining the market for his players, including Hunter Pence, ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark reports. Incoming owner Jim Crane urged Wade to do so in case appealing offers emerge. Here are the rest of Stark’s rumors: 

  • Given Wade’s uncertain future in Houston, at least one executive suggests the GM needs to make a "job-saving deal" if he trades Pence.
  • The Rays are more likely to trade B.J. Upton than James Shields, though they realize Shields’ value has never been higher (the right-hander won't be going to the Bronx). 
  • The Phillies remain in contact with the Royals about Melky Cabrera, but the Royals have told teams they’re more likely to deal Jeff Francoeur. Kansas City is asking for a number three starter who’s nearly Major League ready in return for Cabrera.
  • Clubs that have inquired on Vance Worley have heard that he’s off of the market.
  • The Braves have shown some interest in Heath Bell, whose most aggressive suitors have been the Rangers, Cardinals, Phillies and Angels. The Padres are telling teams that they’ll need to “clearly surpass” the value of two compensatory draft picks in any deal for Bell, though they’re flexible in terms of the type of player they’d accept in return.
  • The Padres continue to field calls on Mike Adams, who will be tougher to obtain than Bell.
  • The Yankees, Phillies and Diamondbacks appear to have checked in on Joakim Soria.
  • The Red Sox are looking at everything, but aren’t approaching the deadline with much urgency, one AL executive told Stark.
  • Rival teams expect that the Dodgers will trade Jamey Carroll and there are indications that Rafael Furcal is drawing interest as well.
  • The Marlins, who hope to build momentum before opening their new stadium in 2012, are in a “holding pattern,” Stark reports. They’ve shown interest in third basemen.
  • Rival teams report that the Phillies say they won’t move Domonic Brown or top pitching prospect Jarred Cosart. Jonathan Singleton is available in the right deal, but the Phillies don’t expect to trade him for a rental player.
  • Stark reminds us that commissioner Bud Selig ruled out contraction at the All-Star Game.

Stark On Wigginton, Lopez, Atkins, Lee

Unlike the Red Sox and Rockies, who may try to avoid making a trade to replace their injured infielders, the Phillies are "trying like hell" to find an infield bat, writes ESPN.com's Jayson Stark. Stark breaks down the Phillies' options and shares some Cliff Lee rumors in a new blog entry:

  • Enough teams are interested in Ty Wigginton that the Orioles can be patient in their attempts to get maximum value for him. The Phillies, on the other hand, need an infielder now, so they'll either have to meet Baltimore's asking price or look elsewhere.
  • A scout tells Stark that some people in the Phils' organization like Jose Lopez "a lot."
  • The Phillies have never been overly interested in Garrett Atkins, and that hasn't changed now that he has become available.
  • Kelly Johnson, Jhonny Peralta, Jose Bautista, and Miguel Tejada are also possibilities to varying degrees for Philadelphia.
  • The Phils don't want to move Domonic Brown, Jarred Cosart, Anthony Gose, or Trevor May for an infielder, but would discuss anyone except Brown for a top starting pitcher.
  • The Reds "are more interested than they're letting on" in Lee, while the Yankees also continue to monitor the Mariners' left-hander.
  • The Rangers and Dodgers would love to acquire Lee, but would have to give up a slew of prospects to avoid taking on his salary.
  • According to Stark, there have even been rumblings that the Rays could be a match for the M's ace if they were willing to move B.J. Upton.