Jarrod Saltalamacchia Rumors

NL East Notes: Latos, Haren, Cishek

The Marlins continue to receive interest in both Mat Latos and Dan Haren, reports MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro. Despite conflicting reports recently, Frisaro hears that the Blue Jays do indeed have some interest in Latos, as do the Cubs. The Blue Jays are also in Haren, per the report,  and so is his former team, the Dodgers (albeit to a lesser extent). Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca (Twitter link) characterizes Toronto as having monitored Latos, noting that it remains to be seen whether the team actually pursues him.

A few more Marlins notes …

  • Frisaro feels that it’s more likely that the Marlins will trade Latos than Haren in the next week due to the fact that trading Latos sooner comes with financial savings, whereas Haren’s $10MM salary is entirely paid for by the Dodgers. Haren could still be an August trade candidate, though, in Frisaro’s eyes.
  • Though Haren and Latos are the most popular names among Marlins trade candidates at present, Steve Cishek is drawing interest as well — specifically from the Cardinals, per the Miami Herald’s Clark Spencer (Twitter link). Cishek has allowed just one earned run in 11 2/3 innings since returning to the big league roster in mid-June, so it’s certainly plausible to think that Miami could save some money and get at least something back for him.
  • An even more interesting question, perhaps, is whether the Marlins or a hypothetical new team will consider tendering Cishek a contract through arbitration. While he may not earn a significant raise, the reliever has a steep $6.65MM starting point entering his second-to-last year of eligibility.
  • Former Marlins backstop Jarrod Saltalamacchia discussed his tenure in Miami with Spencer, He expressed some disappointment with the way things ended and the fact that he did not get a chance to make good on his contract, but acknowledged that he fell short of expectations. On the whole, his comments seemed thoughtful and genuine, and are worth a full read.

Quick Hits: Opt-Outs, Correia, Draft, Rodriguez, Braves

June 1 (that’s Monday) is a popular opt-out date, with multiple players having the chance to become free agents if not elevated to the big league roster. Chris Cotillo of SB Nation ran down a few of those on Twitter: David Aardsma of the Dodgers, Juan Gutierrez and Kevin Correia of the Giants, Rich Hill of the Nationals, and Brad Penny of the White Sox. (He also lists Jarrod Saltalamacchia, but he’s now up with the D’Backs.) As MLBTR’s Steve Adams notes (Twitter links), Aardsma is throwing quite well at Triple-A, and could well end up opting out — making him a nice target for teams in need of an arm.

  • One player who is very likely to find a new home is the Giants‘ Correia, Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com tweets. Correia will likely be released today, says Crasnick, as the team doesn’t have a need for his services at the big league level. He has been effective thus far at Triple-A, throwing 37 2/3 innings of 3.58 ERA ball over six starts and posting 6.0 K/9 against 2.6 BB/9.
  • The upcoming draft is not going to feature two eligible players, as righty/first baseman Luken Baker will head to TCU and center fielder Kevin Collard intends to play at San Diego, per Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs (Twitter link). Kiley rated Baker the 40th-best prospect available, noting that he could end up as either a pitcher or position player.
  • In a recent chat, Ben Badler of Baseball America addressed the question of how Cuban shortstop Alfredo Rodriguez (read more on him here) stacks up against current minor leaguers. Badler says that, while some teams place a higher value on Rodriguez’s skillset (weak bat, good fielding and speed) than do others, he wouldn’t place him within the game’s 200 best prospects.
  • Badler also says that he hears the Braves are planning to make a huge push in the international market — not this coming July 2, but next. Atlanta seems to be hoping to take advantage of the fact that several big-spending teams will be restricted from giving out $300K+ bonuses in that market.
  • Roc Nation has hired former Excel agent Kyle Thousand to head up its baseball representation operations as managing director, Crasnick tweets.

NL Notes: Cubs, Nationals, Strasburg, Heyward, Gosewisch, Giants

Earlier, we discussed a report from Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times indicating that the Cubs will be players if Ben Zobrist is marketed. In that piece, he also discusses the team’s need for pitching. Chicago is “in the mix” for Rafael Soriano and could also be interested in Diamondbacks lefty Oliver Perez. Discussing the team’s summer plans, president of baseball operations Theo Epstein hinted that the club will be looking hard at additions — as Patrick Mooney of CSN Chicago said he expected on last week’s MLBTR podcast“We’re trying to balance short- and long-term interests,” said Epstein. “But we’re in a situation [in which] we have a fairly competitive team right now, and we have some needs. So you don’t ignore that. You keep it in mind. But at the same time you can’t just go out and unilaterally add.”

  • Nationals GM Mike Rizzo indicated that he believes the club can get by with internal options like Michael Taylor and Tyler Moore while Jayson Werth recovers from a fractured wrist, as Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post reports. The left-handed-hitting Clint Robinson could also see time. My own guess is that another lefty bat could be acquired if the right player becomes available, but that the team will not be aggressive unless the need becomes more apparent. It’s worth recalling, too, that Matt den Dekker is still available at Triple-A, with Nate McLouth still a possible candidate to return later in the year.
  • Stephen Strasburg left tonight’s start for the Nationals after just five batters. As Dan Kolko of MASNsports.com reports (Twitter links), Strasburg is said to have suffered a left trap muscle issue of some kind. The righty, who has struggled uncharacteristically, said that his neck tightened up so much that he had trouble turning his head. While it does not appear that there is any concern with arm issues, Strasburg’s general difficulties and neck and back issues are certainly an increasing problem for him and the club.
  • Cardinals GM John Mozeliak says he does not have any retrospective qualms over his acquisition of outfielder Jason Heyward, Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes. Heyward has shown some signs of life after a rough start, but the outstanding early performance of Shelby Miller stands in stark contrast at present. “I think whenever you make those kind of deals, there are reasons behind it,” Mozeliak explained. “And at the time, we felt that we had to do something. Not only looking at how we want this club to be put together, but we did not feel like there might be any other opportunities that would meet the type of criteria we’re looking for.” 
  • Though he has not yet been evaluated, injured Diamondbacks catcher Tuffy Gosewisch says a radiologist that looked at the MRI on his knee believes he may have a torn ACL, Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic tweets. Certainly, that would mean a disappointing end to the year for the 31-year-old, who has struggled at the plate in his opportunity at a starting role. Arizona has called up recent signee Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who will presumably take a good portion of the time behind the dish.
  • Several Giants players have upcoming opt-out dates, Andrew Baggarly of the Mercury News writes. Righty Kevin Correia can become a free agent on the first of June, while third baseman Casey McGehee can opt out on June 5.

West Notes: Kazmir, Crisp, Saltalamacchia, Halos

The Athletics had somewhat of a scare yesterday when Scott Kazmir left his start in the third inning and underwent an MRI due to shoulder soreness, but MLB.com’s Jane Lee tweets that the injury isn’t serious. Kazmir’s MRI revealed no structural damage, and the left-hander is expected to miss only one start before rejoining the Oakland rotation. It’s good news for the A’s on multiple fronts, as a healthy Kazmir will either be a key to a theoretical turnaround of their season or a highly desirable trade chip come July.

Some more news from the game’s Western divisions…

  • News on Coco Crisp, however, isn’t as encouraging for the Athletics, writes Joe Stiglich of CSN Bay Area. Doctors have recommended that Crisp receive an epidural injection to attempt to alleviate the chronic pain in his neck. The center fielder will be shut down from baseball activities for the next month or so, according to manager Bob Melvin. That, as Stiglich notes, would mean that Crisp would likely be out past the All-Star break, as he wouldn’t resume baseball activities until late June or early July.
  • The D-Backs are planning to promote Jarrod Saltalamacchia from Triple-A Reno tomorrow, reports Steve Gilbert of MLB.com (via Twitter). Saltalamacchia signed a minor league pact with Arizona after being surprisingly designated for assignment and subsequently released by the struggling Marlins. Saltlamacchia has struggled some at Triple-A after a notable absence from playing in games — he was on paternity leave prior to his DFA, then waited 10 days before being released and another couple of days before signing — but he does have a pair of homers in nine games with Reno. The Diamondbacks will need to add Saltalamacchia to the 40-man roster before he can join the big league club.
  • The addition of Kirk Nieuwenhuis doesn’t figure to be the only trade the Angels will make in the coming months, as GM Jerry Dipoto told reporters, including Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times, that the search for offense will continue for the next few months. “We’ll be looking for the remainder of the trade season,” said Dipoto, whose team surprisingly ranks 26th in runs scored, 29th in OPS and 26th in wRC+. Dipoto specifically states that he’s not interested in trading the pitching depth he worked long and hard to acquire — presumably referring to Andrew Heaney, Nick Tropeano and Sean Newcomb. He also doesn’t sound like a GM ready to act rashly. “Quite frankly, you try to fix something now, you cost yourself pitching depth, and many different things that could happen along the way would tell you that was the wrong way to go,” he adds.

NL West Notes: Alonso, Saltalamacchia, Pence, Beachy

The Padres could be facing an extended absence for first baseman Yonder Alonso following a shoulder injury sustained in last night’s contest, reports MLB.com’s Barry M. Bloom. Alonso is slated to have an MRI today after jamming his shoulder while diving to field a grounder. The 28-year-old was already scheduled for an x-ray on the shoulder today as well, Bloom notes, having been hit by a pitch there over the weekend — an incident which led to soreness that cost him two games in this week’s series against the Giants. Losing Alonso would be a difficult setback for the Padres for a number of reasons. The former top prospect is hitting well this season, with a .333/.427/.437 batting line in 103 plate appearances. He’s also the only true first baseman on the 25-man roster, and he’s been the most productive left-handed bat on an exceptionally right-leaning Padres roster.

In other news from the NL West…

  • The D-Backs made no promises to Jarrod Saltalamacchia upon signing him to a Minor League deal, writes Zach Buchanan of the Arizona Republic. In fact, chief baseball officer Tony La Russa tells Buchanan that the team wouldn’t have signed Saltalamacchia had he and agent Jim Munsey insisted on being added to the 25-man roster. The club has received virtually no offense from Tuffy Gosewisch thus far — though Gosewisch did respond to Salty’s signing by lacing three doubles on Thursday — but manager Chip Hale said they knew they’d likely be sacrificing some offense for Gosewisch’s glove. The D-Backs were hoping to have more offense from the rest of the order, making the need for production from catcher a bit less glaring. “It depends on how much our shortstop hits, how much our second baseman hits,” said Hale. “You can’t have it be really tough on you after the fifth hitter.”
  • Hunter Pence has yet to play in the second season of his five-year, $90MM contract with the Giants, but the right fielder is set to begin a rehab assignment at Triple-A Sacramento on Friday, reports Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle. Pence is in line for a relatively long rehab assignment, possibly as many as 10 games according to Schulman, in order to make up some of the lost ground from missing Spring Training. Justin Maxwell and Gregor Blanco have shouldered the load in Pence’s absence, but the Giants’ collective .229/.305/.400 line from right fielders clearly isn’t equal to what Pence can provide.
  • Dodgers righty Brandon Beachy is traveling with the Dodgers and working with VP of medical services Stan Conte and pitching coach Rick Honeycutt on changing his mechanics, writes Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register. The changes, made in an effort to prevent further elbow injury once he’s healed from his second Tommy John surgery, were Beachy’s idea. Conte immediately supported the pitcher’s interest in pitching mechanics and biomechanics. Beachy admitted that he’s having trouble commanding his pitches thus far in bullpen sessions, perhaps in part due to the new mechanics. While he has plenty of time to iron out the kinks, reduced control would be a trade-off Beachy would happily make if it meant avoiding another surgery. “I think I’d rather be less effective and be able to stay healthy for longer than one or two months.”

D-Backs Sign Jarrod Saltalamacchia To Minors Deal

7:39pm: Saltalamacchia can opt out of his contract if he isn’t on Arizona’s Major League roster by June 1, SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo tweets.  The opt-out clause likely won’t be an issue, however, as the catcher is expected to join the D’Backs well before the end of the month.

2:22pm: The Diamondbacks took some strides to address their early catching woes on Thursday when they announced that they’ve signed Jarrod Saltalamacchia to a Minor League contract following the veteran catcher’s release from the Marlins (Twitter link). Saltalamacchia is a client of agent Jim Munsey, who took some time to sit down with MLBTR Podcast host Jeff Todd to discuss his client’s release from the Marlins (in addition to several other issues).

Jarrod Saltalamacchia

The 30-year-old Saltalamacchia inked a three-year, $21MM pact with the Marlins in the 2013-14 offseason, but the south Florida native’s homecoming didn’t go as planned. Saltalamacchia batted just .220/.320/.362 with the Marlins last season, and he found himself released this year after a 2-for-29 start to the season. The move came as somewhat of a surprise, given the fact that Saltalamacchia had roughly $14.16MM remaining on his contract at the time he was designated for assignment. The Marlins attempted to trade Saltalamacchia, according to several reports, and it was at least somewhat of another surprise that they weren’t able to find a team willing to pay $1-2MM of the remaining commitment to ensure that they were able to sign him.

As it stands, the D-Backs will reap the benefits, as Miami is on the hook for the entirety of Saltalamacchia’s salary, minus the pro-rated portion of the league minimum that the D-Backs will pay him for any time spent on the active roster.

Arizona’s catching situation has been dismal in 2015, with Tuffy Gosewisch and Jordan Pacheco combining to bat .219/.276/.250 — much of which has been fueled by an unsustainable .400 BABIP for Pacheco (as MLBTR’s Jeff Todd noted last night). The move from the spacious Marlins Park to Arizona’s Chase Field should prove to be quite advantageous for Saltalamacchia, who has 15-25 homer pop in the past and boasts an above-average .175 isolated power mark (slugging minus batting average). Saltalamacchia has long been a better hitter against right-handed pitching than left-handed pitching, as evidenced by a career .775 OPS versus righties and a .596 mark versus lefties. That could allow the D-Backs to effectively platoon Saltalamacchia and Gosewisch, and while Gosewisch doesn’t offer much offense against lefties, he’s considered a stronger defender, so a platoon would minimize some of Saltalamacchia’s defensive deficiencies, to an extent.

Saltalamacchia at one point, from 2011-12, graded as an excellent pitch-framer, but his marks in that regard of deteriorated, as he was below-average in 2013 and graded out as one of the worst in the league in 2014. He’s also thrown out just 22 percent of attempted base-stealers in his career, although in 2011 he was decisively above average in that regard as well, catching 31 percent of those who attempted to run against him.

In the end, the move is a no-risk endeavor for the D-Backs, who will hope that Saltalamacchia can help bridge the gap to prospect Peter O’Brien, whom the organization still hopes can handle catching in the Majors. O’Brien has been moved to the outfield in the early stages of the season after developing a concerning issue with throwing the ball back to the mound at the end of Spring Training, and scouts from other organizations have long questioned whether or not the powerful prospect will be an adequate defender behind the plate.

Saltalamacchia will head to Triple-A to get some at-bats before joining the big league club, tweets Jack Magruder of FOX Sports Arizona. Between paternity leave and his DFA period, Saltalamacchia hasn’t appeared in a game since April 23.

The Arizona Republic’s Nick Piecoro was the first to report that the D-Backs were expected to sign Saltalmacchia. MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert reported that the two sides had agreed to a Minor League deal.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Red Sox Notes: Nieves, Rotation, Saltalamacchia

The Red Sox announced today that they have relieved pitching coach Juan Nieves of his duties. Nieves joined the Boston coaching staff prior to the 2013 season and assisted the club’s World Series run in a year in which the team’s pitching staff posted a collective 3.79 ERA. GM Ben Cherington and manager John Farrell spoke to the media on a conference call today to discuss that change, the club’s rotation and a few other notes. Here are some highlights and a bit more on the BoSox…

  • The Red Sox have a very small list of replacement candidates for Nieves, Cherington said (Twitter links via WEEI’s Rob Bradford). Boston is considering at least one internal and one external candidate. The primary reason for Nieves’ dismissal was an inability to get through to Boston’s current group of starters, Bradford tweets. Cherington stressed that there was no singular incident that led to the decision to let Nieves go, the Boston Herald’s Scott Lauber tweets. There will be no further changes to the coaching staff, he added (via Bradford).
  • Despite struggles within the rotation, there will be no changes to the starting five, according to Cherington (via the Boston Globe’s Alex Speier). Rick Porcello, Justin Masterson, Wade Miley, Joe Kelly and Clay Buchholz have combined for a 5.54 ERA that is the second-worst rotation ERA in the Majors, with only Colorado’s 5.59 mark coming in above Boston’s starting five.
  • Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that Indians Triple-A pitching coach Carl Willis is a consideration to replace Nieves (Twitter link). Willis, who has formerly served as the Major League pitching coach in Cleveland, worked with Farrell in the Indians organization in the early to mid-2000s, Rosenthal adds in a second tweet. Willis was also the Mariners’ pitching coach as recently as 2013.
  • Jarrod Saltalamacchia spoke with Bradford yesterday and told him that he “was definitely hoping to come back” to Boston after initially learning that the Marlins had designated him for assignment. However, Saltalamacchia was told that he’d have to search elsewhere for employment, and he tells Bradford that he understands the Sox’ decision in wanting to give Blake Swihart a chance behind the plate. “I can completely respect that,” said Saltalamacchia, in regards to Swihart. “As a player you appreciate something like that, when a team has a homegrown, young guy they want to give an opportunity to. That’s what every player hopes for and wants, that opportunity to prove himself.”

Podcast: Talking Salty With Agent Jim Munsey

Jim Munsey of Munsey Sports Management, the representative of Jarrod Saltalamacchia and other big leaguers, sat down with host Jeff Todd for today’s podcast. Munsey discusses his work for the just-released Saltalamacchia, including a busy last couple of days looking for a new home for his client.

Munsey also talks about the challenges and rewards of running a smaller agency, and gives some updates and insight into two of his other other clients: injured relievers Sean Burnett (a free agent) and Neil Wagner (Rays).

This episode comes to you courtesy of DraftKings.com, who invite you to use promo code “MLBTR” for a free shot at playing fantasy baseball for cash prizes.

Click here to subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, and please leave a review! The podcast is also available via Stitcher at this link.

The MLB Trade Rumors Podcast runs weekly on Thursday afternoons.

Diamondbacks Expected To Sign Jarrod Saltalamacchia

The Diamondbacks are expected to agree to terms with catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports on Twitter. Saltalamacchia must first clear release waivers, which will occur today, before he can reach formal agreement.

Saltalamacchia, 30, was released by the Marlins in the early going this year despite still having two years and about $14MM left on his contract. Miami will be left with those obligations since the club was unable to find a taker for some of his salary.

Of course, that means that the veteran backstop offers an essentially free opportunity for other clubs to add a power left-handed bat behind the dish. (The switch-hitter has always fared better against righties.) Though he has had his struggles defensively, Saltalamacchia remains as intriguing a player as can be hoped for in early May.

All said, linking up with Arizona makes eminent sense for both sides. The D’Backs’ catching situation has been even worse than expected, with starter Tuffy Gosewisch scuffling badly offensively. The team has little to lose and plenty to gain by installing Saltalamacchia in some kind of timeshare.

D’Backs, Mariners, Royals Considering Saltalamacchia; Orioles Unlikely

6:11pm: The Orioles are not expected to land the backstop, Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com reports on Twitter.

6:08pm: A deal could come together by tomorrow, tweets Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. The Mariners, Orioles, and Royals are the teams that have joined the D’Backs in pursuit, per Cafardo.

9:11am: The D’Backs are joined by three other teams in “looking at” the backstop, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports on Twitter. The Red Sox and Rays are not among them, he adds.

8:28am: Arizona has indeed already reached out to Saltalamacchia, tweets Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca. Multiple clubs are involved early in the process, per the report.

8:19am: The Diamondbacks are considering a run at newly-minted free agent catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports. Arizona was said to be one of the teams discussing the veteran with the Marlins prior to his release.

“He’s a player that we’re going to talk a little bit more in-depth about,” said GM Dave Stewart. “I have to see what our scouts are saying and talk to our internal guys, and if it makes sense then we’ll make the next step.”

Now that Saltalamacchia’s large salary is destined to remain entirely on the Marlins’ tab, clubs can pursue him as a risk-free addition. It remains to be seen what kind of market will develop now that Salty is back on the open market, but competition to acquire his services will presumably focus on non-compensatory matters, such as playing time, fit, and location.

Arizona’s catching situation has been as unproductive as expected, though at least four other teams have compiled more negative fWAR at the position. Starter Tuffy Gosewisch has slashed just .176/.222/.176 through 72 plate appearances. And while the versatile Jordan Pacheco has provided some value offensively, his .280/.379/.400 slash is fueled by a .400 BABIP and seems highly likely to come back to earth.

Stewart acknowledged that situation, saying while he liked the job Gosewisch has done behind the plate, “we still expect a little more offense from him.” While the rookie GM did not give any indication that Gosewisch’s time was short, he did make clear that change was not out of the question: “He may make those adjustments,” said Stewart, “but with that being said, we have to at least go through the process internally and see if Saltalamacchia is an option to bring here.”

All said, the D’Backs look like precisely the kind of club that ought to take a shot on a return to form from Saltalamacchia, who just turned thirty a few days ago. He may never get back to the low-OBP but high-power option he was before going to Miami, but his ceiling is known and is obviously higher than that of most freely available talent. At the very least, the switch-hitting Saltalamacchia has always high right-handed pitching, making him a useful option to pair with a right-handed bat.