Jason Castro Rumors

Astros Notes: Drew, Boras, Scherzer, Cubs

Here’s the latest on the Astros from Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle

  • The Astros met with agent Scott Boras to discuss shortstop Stephen Drew and relief pitching, says a source familiar with the conversation.  Boras confirmed the meeting took place without naming any particular names, saying “We’ve had meetings and talked and we have bullpen guys and the infield and outfield guys, so we’ve had some general conversations.  They’re kind of in a fluid state on their position players, but…we have some guys that may be some fits there.”  This is just my speculation, but it’s possible Houston could’ve been looking into Rafael Soriano or Francisco Rodriguez, Boras’ two most high-profile bullpen clients.
  • Boras said that Takashi Toritani is drawing interest from MLB teams mostly as a second baseman rather than his natural shortstop position.  As Drellich notes, this would seem to eliminate the Astros from contention since Jose Altuve is already entrenched at second.
  • Unsurprisingly, Drellich’s source said that the Astros’ chat with Boras didn’t involve Max Scherzer.
  • The Cubs showed some interest in Jason Castro earlier this offseason, prior to Chicago’s acquisition of Miguel Montero from the Diamondbacks.

Cafardo On Fowler, Astros, Hammel, Miley

Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe asked about a dozen GMs in Phoenix about the Yankees’ situation and not one of them thought the Bombers would stay away from a major signing.  For all the talk about the Cubs being a major player for Jon Lester, the Red Sox are still fearful that it’ll be the Yankees that swoop in and grab him.  More from today’s column..

  • Both center fielder Dexter Fowler and catcher Jason Castro are available in a deal and the Astros wouldn’t mind dealing for bullpen help.   Fowler had a decent year and enjoyed more success as a right-handed hitter.  The 28-year-old (29 by Opening Day) slashed .327/.419/.467 as a right-handed hitter but hit just .260/.361/.376 from the other side of the plate.  Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle has heard that the asking price is high on Castro and that there aren’t any contract talks currently taking place between the two sides.
  • Jason Hammel’s agent, Alan Nero, told Cafardo that teams have called on his client but no great advancements have been made on a contract.  Nero figures the secondary pitching market may take a while to develop.
  • Diamondbacks left-hander Wade Miley has become a popular trade target of a few teams, and while Arizona will listen, it will take a haul to get him.
  • Free agent catcher David Ross wonders whether his status with the Red Sox hinges on whether they sign Jon Lester.  Lester and Ross had a great run together in 2013 and the catcher tells Cafardo that the two will get together after Thanksgiving.  Ross says that he’s begun to field interest from other teams in the interim.
  • The Phillies will shop Carlos Ruiz and while plenty of teams need catchers, his age (35) and his contract will be a problem.  Ruiz has two years left on his deal at $8.5MM per year plus a $4.5MM option for 2017 that can bought out for $500K.

West Notes: Mariners, Sandoval, Hudson, Astros, Castro, D’backs

The Mariners were in the mix for free agent catcher Russell Martin, reports MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince. It is not clear exactly what Seattle’s plans would have been with young backstop Mike Zunino, had they managed to land Martin, but it seems fair to assume that the club was only looking at the catching market for that specific player. Going forward, though, this report supports the idea that the M’s are indeed prepared to spend on the open market.

Here’s more from out west:

  • Gustavo Vasquez, the agent for third baseman Pablo Sandoval, plans to speak with the Giants by phone this evening after wrapping up a lengthy visit to Boston yesterday, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets. His client could be on the horn as well, says Rosenthal. It is not yet known whether Sandoval came away from his visit with the Red Sox with a firm offer in hand.
  • Veteran Giants righty Tim Hudson says he is likely to retire after 2015, per the Associated Press (via ESPN.com). “I have one more year left on my contract, so I’m pretty sure that’s going to be it after this season,” Hudson said. “I just started my workouts yesterday, which is kind of crazy to me.”
  • The Astros are readying for another, “fresh look” at the possibility of working out extensions, GM Jeff Luhnow tells Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle. Last year, of course, the club pursued several long-term deals with younger players, ultimately locking up Jon Singleton. Renewed exploration of a deal with catcher Jason Castro remains possible, said Luhnow, though Drellich reports that no talks are taking place at present. The catcher has consistently said he would be interested in a new deal to stay in Houston for the long run, though his name has come up as a possible trade candidate.
  • Discussions went pretty far down the line last year, with Drellich reporting that the club made Castro an offer after his stellar 2013 season. Per Chris Cotillo of SB Nation, that offer would have promised the now-27-year-old around $10MM for 2015-16 while conveying two option years (covering Castro’s first two seasons of free agent eligibility) to the team. Had they been exercised, the deal’s total value could have reached about $25MM. It is not hard to see why he declined that proposal, as Castro is projected by MLBTR/Matt Swartz to earn $3.9MM this year even after a rough 2014 campaign.
  • MLB.com’s Corey Brock takes a closer look at Ed Lewis, the Diamondbacks‘ newly-minted director of baseball analytics and research. Needless to say, Lewis’s background — he is a veterinarian by training — is an unusual one for a MLB executive. But chief baseball officer Tony La Russa says that Lewis has a track record of working with baseball numbers. “Ed gave me my first introduction to advanced analytics when he worked with our offensive preparation in St. Louis and I’ve always been impressed with his intelligence and integrity,” said La Russa (via press release). “It was clear that [GM Dave Stewart] and [president/CEO Derrick Hall] were also very impressed by his wealth of knowledge. He is a scientist who is mathematically inclined and he knows the game. Most importantly, he understands our approach to it.”


Luhnow On Free Agents, Catchers, Outfield

There is nothing imminent for the Astros, reports Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle, but GM Jeff Luhnow says he got a “pretty good feel” for price tags and availability for possible targets.

Here’s more out of Houston:

  • Luhnow left Drellich with the impression that the organization is ready to be a player on the open market. The GM says that, with two top-five protected picks, draft pick compensation is less of a deterrent. And the club would consider burning all of its open 2015 payroll space on one, premium player in the right circumstances.
  • Houston is at least 50-50 on dealing away a catcher after acquiring Hank Conger, Luhnow tells Drellich“Because we have three major league catchers, I’ve had clubs inquire about all our catchers quite frankly,” said Luhnow. “So we need to figure out some resolution prior to Opening Day. There’s no urgency.”
  • An executive with another club said that the asking price is high on Jason Castro. Somewhat interestingly, the GM noted that a Castro-Conger duo presents some platoon issues. “A right-handed hitter complements Jason,” said Luhnow. “Conger’s better from the left side.”
  • The Astros are not prioritizing outfield help at the moment, Drellich tweets. Players like Nori Aoki and Ichiro Suzuki do not hold appeal to Houston, according to Luhnow.

AL West Notes: Street, A’s, Corporan, Astros

Huston Street no longer has an agent and will represent himself for any extension negotiations that take place with the Angels, MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez reports. Street was previously a client of Hendricks Sports Management. GM Jerry Dipoto tells Gonzalez that he does have interest in a new contract with Street but told the closer at the time his option was exercised that no talks would come until Spring Training.

Elsewhere in the AL West…

  • MLB.com’s Jane Lee writes that A’s sources downplayed the team’s connection to Stephen Drew and Asdrubal Cabrera. However, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports tweets that he again heard Oakland mentioned as possibility for both clubs. Heyman wonders it the A’s would try to sign both, with Drew slated for shortstop duty and Cabrera handling second base.
  • Jason Castro‘s name has drawn some attention as a trade target since the Astros acquired Hank Conger, but while Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle feels the ‘Stros would listen on Castros, he’s told that Carlos Corporan is the catcher they’d prefer to move (Twitter link).
  • In a second piece from Drellich, Astros GM Jeff Luhnow explained that he wants to give Jon Singleton and Matt Dominguez a chance to make next year’s team, but both players will have to earn their spots, as both have minor league options remaining. Adding an insurance policy that is capable of handling both infield corners would be “advantageous,” Luhnow said. Drellich notes that at shortstop, the team will also look for an upgrade, but perhaps only a stopgap with Carlos Correa rising through the system. In general, said the Astros will target infielders on one- or two-year deals, as Correa, Colin Moran and Rio Ruiz can’t be counted on to impact the big league club in 2015. In last month’s Offseason Outlook for the Astros, I speculated that they’d be a fit for Drew for that very reason.

Central Notes: White Sox, Royals, V-Mart

Rebuilding is no longer a word the White Sox want to be associated with, Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune reports. “We sit here on the one hand realizing that we have the prime of Chris Sale‘s career ahead of us, the prime of Jose Abreu‘s career ahead of us and wanting to make sure we’re in a position to capitalize and win within that window,” Hahn said. “We want to win, we want to win again quickly and we want to win again repeatedly in the coming years. … We still have work to do to continue that process.” At the same time, Hahn emphasized today that the team has to avoid the “dangerous allure to wanting to make a splash,” as Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune reports in the course of an interesting look at the team’s options.

Here’s the latest from the AL Central after a busy news day:

  • The White Sox are currently focused on acquiring a right-handed starter, bullpen additions, and a left-handed hitter, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports on Twitter. While the club has in the past looked into dealing for backstops such as Jason Castro of the Astros and Yasmani Grandal of the Padres, that does not appear to be the priority at present, per Rosenthal. Nevertheless, Bruce Levine of 670thescore.com indicates on Twitter that the team does have present interest in Castro.
  • Hahn said today that Chicago is interested in multiple relief acquisitions, as MLB.com’s Phil Rogers reports“We don’t feel the need to go out and get a so-called proven closer,” said Hahn. “We certainly want to have multiple upgrades, and if some of those upgrades give us viable back-end options, that’s great.”
  • Word is that the Royals will meet with the representatives of lefty Brett Anderson this week, Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star reports on Twitter. GM Dayton Moore declined to confirm or deny that or any other meetings. I picked Anderson to go to Kansas City in the MLBTR free agent prediction contest, and think he makes sense for a club that has some added cash to spend on an upside play.
  • The Royals have told Raul Ibanez that they would be interested in employing him in a non-playing capacity, tweets McCullough. Ibanez, of course, is in the hunt for the Rays’ open managerial position, and perhaps it is still to early to rule out a return to an active roster as well.
  • Victor Martinez is at the top of the Tigers‘ list of priorities, writes Paul Hagen of MLB.com, as GM Dave Dombrowski made clear that the team will make every effort to re-sign the DH. The team is still interested in outgoing free agents Max Scherzer and Joba Chamberlain, per Dombrowski, but he said the club is sitting back while both assess their markets.

 


Cafardo’s Latest: Cespedes, Sale, Samardzija, Castro

Here are the highlights of the latest rumors column from Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe:

  • The Red Sox don’t “hateYoenis Cespedes, despite a previous report that indicated otherwise. But Cafardo suggests Cespedes didn’t do enough work on his defense after arriving in Boston, and his offense wasn’t enough to compensate for it. Cespedes has only one year left on his contract, but it’s not clear whether, or when, the Red Sox will deal him.
  • Cafardo says he got “a minute of straight laughter” when he asked if the White Sox might trade Chris Sale.
  • The Red Sox and Athletics could discuss a Jeff Samardzija trade. Cafardo speculates Red Sox shortstop prospect Deven Marrero could be a potential piece, given that the A’s appear to be about to lose Jed Lowrie (to free agency) and already lost Addison Russell (when they traded for Samardzija in the first place).
  • Now that they’ve acquired Hank Conger, the Astros could listen to offers for fellow catcher Jason Castro. Castro hit just .222/.286/.386 in a disappointing offensive season in 2014. He has two years remaining before free agency.

Richards, Shoemaker, Castro, Furbush, And Morrison Change Agencies

Relativity Sports has added an even handful of new clients, Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com reports (Twitter links). In addition to Garrett Richards and Matt Shoemaker of the Angels, Relativity has taken on Jason Castro of the Astros along with Charlie Furbush and Logan Morrison of the Mariners as clients. Each of those players had been with Octagon, but it appears that they followed agent Fred Wray to his new agency.

Among this group of players, only Shoemaker has yet to reach arbitration eligibility. He and fellow breakout Angels starter Richards (who will be entering his first arb year as a Super Two) could well become extension candidates if they maintain their form. Meanwhile, Castro could be a somewhat difficult-to-peg arbitration case, as he looks to improve on his $2.45MM salary after a rough year.

Morrison, too, could require some effort from his new firm. He managed to bridge a large gap in filing figures last year, settling on a $1.75MM deal. But Morrison’s future remains unclear after putting up a solid, if unspectacular, .262/.315/.420 slash over 365 plate appearances. He could be ready to go through another (relatively) high-stakes round of arbitration negotiations, find himself dealt to a new club, or even be set loose to find a new club on the open market.

Be sure to check out MLBTR’s Agency Database for the most up-to-date information on player representation.


Astros Notes: Luhnow, Fowler, Castro, Rule 5

This trade deadline could be a quiet but a fascinating one for the Astros, as the team may still willing to move veteran players but not only for prospects, Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle writes.  “We’re going to do anything that presents itself that will improve our club,” GM Jeff Luhnow said. “We’re not going to focus only on the next two months. We’re also not going to focus only on 2017 and beyond. We’re going to focus on any moves that we think can help in both the short term and the long term. That may be nothing; it may be several things.”

Here’s some more from Drellich’s broad overview of what the Astros could explore over the next two months…

  • Dexter Fowler and Jason Castro would’ve likely been trade candidates in past years given the Astros’ veteran-dealing strategy since Luhnow took over.  Now, however,  the GM says he wants both players to be Astros “for a while.  And they’re still under team control, and there are opportunities to keep them beyond team control.”
  • Fowler told Drellich that he hadn’t had any extension talks to keep him in Houston beyond the end of the 2015 season, when his current contract expires.
  • Castro’s trade value has dropped thanks to a poor season, though Houston is known to have explored dealing the catcher thanks to the team’s recently-leaked trade notes.  Castro is under team control through 2016 and the Astros have catching prospect Max Stassi at Triple-A.
  • Drellich thinks every member of the bullpen “feels moveable.”  Once some injured relievers return, Luhnow said “we would probably have surplus in the bullpen, and bullpen is one of those areas that clubs that feel like they’re in contention for a division or wild card oftentimes need some depth.  Something could happen there, but there’s nothing right now that seems obvious.”
  • Tony Sipp and Chad Qualls both figure to draw interest from other teams, though Drellich isn’t sure the Astros would trade Chad Qualls so soon after he signed a two-year deal with the club last winter.  Dealing a player relatively soon after a multiyear commitment could harm the team’s standing with future free agents.
  • On the minor league front, Houston has so many quality prospects that they can’t protect them all via the Rule 5 draft.  Some prospects may have to be traded if the organization doesn’t truly see them as long-term pieces.

Astros’ Trade Discussion Notes Leaked

4:30pm: The Astros have issued the following statement regarding the leaked notes:

“Last month, we were made aware that proprietary information held on Astros’ servers and in Astros’ applications had been illegally obtained. Upon learning of the security breach, we immediately notified MLB security who, in turn, notified the FBI.  Since that time, we have been working closely with MLB security and the FBI to the determine the party, or parties, responsible.  This information was illegally obtained and published, and we intend to prosecute those involved to the fullest extent.

“It is unfortunate and extremely disappointing that an outside source has illegally obtained confidential information.  While it does appear that some of the content released was based on trade conversations, a portion of the material was embellished or completely fabricated.”

2:29pm: Extensive trade discussion notes, apparently logged by Astros executives about their talks with other teams, have been leaked onto the site AnonBin here and here, with Deadspin breaking the story and Yahoo’s Jeff Passan verifying the authenticity of the logs.  The earliest notes are from June 2013, and the latest are from March of this year.  The Astros have yet to comment on the leak, which provides unprecedented detail into how the team values players and approaches trade discussions.  According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, the Astros have been reaching out to people around baseball apologizing for the leaks, and plan to issue a statement soon.

A March feature by Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle outlines Ground Control, the Astros’ confidential internal database from which the trade discussion notes were likely taken.  At this time, it’s unclear whether the information reached the Internet via a rogue employee of the team, or by some kind of security vulnerability in Ground Control.  The trade discussion information, mostly from last summer and offseason, is somewhat dated in the fast-moving baseball hot stove world.  The larger ramification is the breach of trust experienced by the many non-Astros executives cited in the notes.  It’s unlikely any team would rule out the Astros as a trading partner based on this breach, but some teams could approach talks with added caution.  Additionally, I imagine the many other teams with such highly sensitive material online are doubling down on security right now.

The Astros’ trade notes from last summer and offseason range from the blockbuster to the mundane; here are some highlights.

  • On November 15th, Astros GM Jeff Luhnow expressed interest with Marlins GM Dan Jennings in slugger Giancarlo Stanton.  From the notes: “[Jennings] said he doesn’t think he’ll trade Stanton and the only deal he could think of from us that would work would be [George] Springer and [Carlos] Correa. [Luhnow] said that would not work. [Luhnow] posited a deal around [Jarred] Cosart and [Delino] DeShields.”  It’s not a big surprise that Luhnow rejected Jennings’ proposal out of hand, as Correa and Springer were ranked #4 and #19 on Keith Law’s top 100 prospects list for ESPN, and are major building blocks for Houston.  That Luhnow didn’t appear to offer either player suggests he was mostly gauging Stanton’s price after an off-year with three years of control remaining.  UPDATE: Jennings has commented to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, saying it’s fabricated that they ever offered Stanton to the Astros or any other team, also using the word “laughable.”
  • Interest in Astros catcher Jason Castro was strong last offseason, with a few surprising suitors.  The Blue Jays and Rangers reached out in mid-October to gauge Castro’s price, the White Sox had “definite high interest,” and Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik told Luhnow in November that he was getting calls from other teams asking if he could get Castro from the Astros for those teams.  Zduriencik offered Dustin Ackley and was turned down.
  • Notes for the Astros’ summer trade discussions begin at June 17th, 2013.  The team ultimately went on to acquire Ronald Torreyes from the Cubs in June, and also dealt veterans Jose Veras, Bud Norris, and Justin Maxwell near the July deadline.  The Astros did not end up acquiring any top 100-type prospects, but they sure did ask for the moon.  For Norris, the Astros sought Kyle Crick and Clayton Blackburn from the Giants, Dylan Bundy or Kevin Gausman from the Orioles, Marcus Stroman and more from the Blue Jays, Xander Bogaerts, Allen Webster, Jackie Bradley Jr., or Garin Cecchini from the Red Sox, and Tyler Glasnow plus Luis Heredia or Nick Kingham from the Pirates.  The Red Sox offered Ryan Lavarnway or Deven Marrero for Norris and were turned down.  In the end, the Astros traded Norris and an international draft slot to the Orioles for L.J. Hoes, Josh Hader, and a 2014 competitive balance pick.
  • When Nationals GM Mike Rizzo called to express interest in middling Astros starting pitcher Lucas Harrell, who had a 5.17 ERA at the time and nearly as many walks as strikeouts, “[Luhnow] told him we would still need a headliner like [Lucas] Giolito because we still value Harrell highly. Rizzo did not respond immediately.”
    Harrell was designated for assignment, outrighted, and traded for a pittance nine months later, so the Astros might have overplayed their hand.
  • “Untouchable” players from other teams were revealed through conversations with their executives.  White Sox GM Rick Hahn wouldn’t consider trading Chris Sale, Jose Quintana, Jose Abreu, or Avisail Garcia.  Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos considered Brett Lawrie off-limits.  Pirates outfield prospect Gregory Polanco came up as well, in that GM Neal Huntington wouldn’t include him in any Norris deal.  In December talks regarding Harrell, the Giants said they would not discuss Brandon Belt.
  • More random notes: Mets executive Paul DePodesta asked Luhnow if the Astros would consider trading shortstop Jonathan Villar in a Daniel Murphy deal in December…the Marlins expressed interest in Jose Altuve, Matt Dominguez, and others in December.