Jason Grilli 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.

NL East Notes: Hamels, Braves, Pierzynski, Rizzo

Assuming normal rest, Cole Hamels is scheduled to start for the Phillies on July 19, July 25 and July 31, Jake Kaplan of the Philadelphia Inquirer notes.  That July 31st start is a night game, so Hamels could be scratched if he’s dealt prior to the deadline earlier that afternoon (assuming he hasn’t already been traded before the 31st).  Here’s some more from Philadelphia and elsewhere around the NL East…

  • The Braves had discussed packaging Jason Grilli and Jim Johnson together in trade talks, MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reports, with the idea that two relievers would bring back a larger return from a bullpen-needy team. That plan was scuttled when Grilli suffered a season-ending Achilles tendon tear yesterday, though Johnson remains a trade candidate.
  • Bowman’s piece lists several possible trade chips on the Braves roster, including Johnson, Chris Johnson, Kelly Johnson, Cameron Maybin, Juan Uribe and A.J. Pierzynski.  In regards to Pierzynski, Bowman believes Atlanta will try to bring the catcher back in 2016 even if they do trade him this year.
  • Nationals GM Mike Rizzo broadly discussed his team’s general deadline plans with reporters, including Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post.  The Nats lineup will be boosted by the returns of several stars from the DL, and while Janes feels Washington could use another relief arm, Rizzo praised the job done by current relievers like Aaron Barrett and Blake Treinen.
  • It’s only a matter of time before Aaron Nola is promoted to the majors, CSNPhilly.com’s Jim Salisbury writes, and he believes the Phillies could call Nola up within “the next couple of weeks, possibly in tandem with a trade deadline move.”  This is just my speculation, but promoting Nola to fill Hamels’ roster spot would be a good the-future-is-now type of move.
  • Several scouts believe former Angels GM Jerry Dipoto would be a good fit as the Phillies‘ next general manager, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick tweets.  Interestingly, Dipoto’s former assistant GM in Anaheim, Matt Klentak, has also been mentioned in connection to a job in the new Andy MacPhail-run Phillies front office.
  • In NL East news from earlier today, the Pirates have interest in Phillies outfielders Ben Revere and Jeff Francoeur.

Jason Grilli Out For Season With Achilles Injury

Braves closer Jason Grilli is done for the season with a ruptured Achilles tendon, tweets David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Grilli was in the midst of a resurgent season after losing his job as the Pirates closer last summer. In 33.2 innings, he had a 2.67 ERA, 24 saves, 12.03 K/9, and 2.67 BB/9.

With the Braves on the outer fringes of contention, many analysts believed Grilli would be an attractive trade deadline target. The Blue Jays, Cubs, Dodgers, Nationals, and Tigers are among the contenders rumored to be looking for relief help. The club has dropped four straight contests and is now four games below .500. Atlanta is five games back from the second Wild Card slot.

The Braves are likely to turn to fellow reclamation project Jim Johnson in Grilli’s stead. The former Orioles closer has experienced his own rebound this year with a 2.14 ERA, 6.64 K/9, 3.00 BB/9, and five saves in 42 innings. It’s also possible that Johnson will be shopped at the deadline if the Braves fall further out of contention.



Heyman On Grilli, D-backs, Marlins, Dodgers

Here are the highlights from Jon Heyman’s massive new Inside Baseball article for CBS Sports. Be sure to check out Heyman on the latest edition of the MLBTR Podcast.

  • The Braves have had “serious talks” about dealing closer Jason Grilli to a contender, Heyman writes, with the Blue Jays and Dodgers among the teams that make the most sense.
  • The Diamondbacks have made infielder Aaron Hill and pitchers Jeremy Hellickson and Addison Reed available in trades, and all three players have attracted at least some interest.
  • The Marlins could trade starter Dan Haren for the right return. On paper, the Dodgers would seem to make sense, but that seems unlikely, since the Dodgers treated Haren basically as a throw-in in the Dee Gordon trade in the offseason. The Dodgers would also prefer to find a starter they could use in the playoffs, and Haren likely doesn’t qualify.
  • Dodgers shortstop Jimmy Rollins could become available in a trade as top prospect Corey Seager continues to demonstrate he’s ready for the big leagues.
  • The Dodgers, Blue Jays, Nationals and perhaps other teams had scouts on hand as Mariners starter Hisashi Iwakuma returned from a lat injury this week. Iwakuma could be a trade candidate, but Heyman notes that giving up four homers to the Tigers probably didn’t exactly increase his value.
  • Brewers third baseman Aramis Ramirez still seems set on retiring after the season, despite agent Paul Kinzer’s efforts to get him to continue.
  • The Padres have been scouting the Mets lately, leading to speculation that the Mets could be trying to trade for Justin Upton.
  • The Phillies are “not bending” in their demands for Cole Hamels, and his limited no-trade clause remains an obstacle.
  • The Giants have had talks with free agent infielder Everth Cabrera. The Orioles released Cabrera last month. He would provide depth for San Francisco.

Cafardo’s Latest: Revere, Kennedy, Hamels, Jays

The Angels were first linked to Ben Revere in trade rumors in May but the rumors almost became a reality.  Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports that the Phillies and Angels came close a few weeks ago on a trade that would’ve sent Revere to Anaheim for right-hander Trevor Gott.  The Phils thought the deal was done but the Halos “pulled out of the deal at the last minute and tried to redirect the Phillies toward a starting pitching prospect.”  Talks fell through after that.  Here’s some more from Cafardo’s weekly notes column, with a particular focus on news from Toronto…

  • Ian Kennedy has a 2.31 ERA over his last six starts and the Padres right-hander has begun to generate some trade interest in his services.  Kennedy had an ugly 7.15 ERA over his first eight starts and owns a 4.86 ERA for the season, though his peripherals (8.51 K/9, 3.04 K/BB rate, 3.74 xFIP, 3.70 SIERA) are are pretty solid, aside from a 22.1% homer rate that more than double his career average.  Kennedy is a free agent this winter and would be a natural trade chip for San Diego if the Friars decided to sell.
  • Cole Hamels has publicly said he’s willing to consider deals to any team but is reportedly unlikely to waive his no-trade clause if he’s dealt to the Astros or Blue Jays.  Cafardo wonders if Hamels would remain adamant against a move to Houston or Toronto, however, if those were the only deals on the table and his only avenues away from the rebuilding Phillies.
  • Attracting free agents north of the border has long been an issue for the Blue Jays, as Cafardo cites higher taxes, customs delays and the Rogers Centre’s artificial surface as factors that can sometimes make Toronto a tough sell.  (Josh Donaldson and Jose Reyes both praised their city, though Reyes admitted he isn’t a fan of the turf.)  The bigger problem for the Jays, however, is that they have barely contended since their last playoff appearance in 1993.  “It just seems GM Alex Anthopoulos has to go through corporate layers to OK big expenditures, slowing the process considerably,” Cafardo writes.  “Players always want to know that their ownership is doing all it can to produce a winner.”
  • Braves closer Jason Grilli is one of the Blue Jays‘ targets as the team looks for bullpen help.  Grilli would cost less in both salary and trade chips than Jonathan Papelbon or Francisco Rodriguez, two closers who have also been connected to the Jays this summer.  Atlanta isn’t yet looking to move Grilli, however, as the team is still in the race.
  • Other have asked the Blue Jays about several players in trade talks, including young talent like Miguel Castro, Daniel Norris, Roberto Osuna, Kevin Pillar, Dalton Pompey, Aaron Sanchez and Devon Travis.
  • “Every indication is that” R.A. Dickey is in his last year with the Blue Jays, as the team will either use their $1MM buyout of Dickey’s $12MM club option for 2016 or Dickey may just retire.  The 40-year-old knuckleballer had a tough start today against the Tigers and now owns a 5.02 ERA over 107 2/3 innings this season.
  • Jeff Samardzija “may be the first starting pitcher moved ahead of the trading deadline” since “scouts are constantly at his games,” Cafardo writes.  The White Sox aren’t ready to start selling yet, but they’ll find a strong market for Samardzija’s services that includes the Royals, Astros and Tigers.  (Cafardo cited several more teams in the Samardzija market in his column last week.
  • Nobody knows what the Red Sox are going to do because they don’t know what they’re going to do,” one NL executive said.  Boston has played modestly better as of late, winning 10 of its last 16 games, though the Sox are still just 38-45 on the season.  Koji Uehara is cited by the executive as one of “a few players teams would want” if the Red Sox decided to start selling.  The team is known to be looking for young pitching on the trade market.

Braves Sign Jason Grilli

The Braves have struck a move to bolster their bullpen, adding right-hander Jason Grilli on a two-year deal with a third-year club option, the team announced Tuesday night. Grilli, a client of player-turned-agent Gary Sheffield, will reportedly earn $8MM over the life of the contract.

Jason Grilli

The two-year agreement pays Grilli $4.25MM in 2015 and $3.5MM in 2016. The club option, which comes with a $250K buyout, is valued at $3MM.

The 38-year-old Grilli got off to a rough start in 2014 — the second season of a two-year, $6.75MM pact with the Pirates. A 2013 All-Star, Grilli slumped to a 4.87 ERA through his first 20 1/3 innings this season and also missed roughly a month with an oblique strain. He ceded the closer’s role to Mark Melancon and was ultimately flipped to the Angels in a one-for-one trade that sent Ernesto Frieri to Pittsburgh. The swap of struggling closers didn’t pan out for Frieri, but Grilli managed to right the ship and was very good down the stretch with Anaheim.

In 33 2/3 innings with the Halos, Grilli notched a 3.48 ERA with 9.6 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9. The control problems he experienced in the season’s early stages seemed to be corrected with the Angels, and he showed no drop in velocity following the oblique injury, as he averaged 93.1 mph on his heater with both teams.

Grilli will likely assume a large chunk of the innings that would have gone to Jordan Walden, who was acquired by the Cardinals alongside Jason Heyward in the trade that sent Shelby Miller and Tyrell Jenkins to Atlanta. Craig Kimbrel, of course, will again be tasked with defending ninth-inning leads, so Grilli will join Shae Simmons, David Carpenter and reclamation project Jim Johnson in bridging the gap from the rotation to Kimbrel. His two-year deal will lock in his age-38 and age-39 seasons, also giving the Braves an option for his age-40 campaign.

Grilli’s interesting Major League career began with the Marlins in 2003 but didn’t really take off until 2011 with the Pirates. Grilli missed the 2010 season after undergoing surgery to repair a quadriceps injury, and he carried a lifetime 4.74 ERA to Pittsburgh before breaking out with a 2.48 ERA and a hefty 10.2 K/9 rate. Grilli improved further in 2012, increasing his workload from 32 2/3 innings to 58 2/3 as his strikeout rate soared to 13.8 per nine innings. He eventually staked a claim to the club’s ninth-inning role and made his first All-Star team as Pittsburgh’s closer in 2013 at the age of 36. Over the past four seasons, Grilli has totaled a 3.09 ERA with 11.9 K/9, 3.3 BB/9 and a 34.2 percent ground-ball rate in 195 1/3 innings. His outstanding 2.47 SIERA ranks 16th among 216 qualified relievers in that stretch.

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports first reported the agreement (Twitter links). Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (via Twitter) and MLB.com’s Mark Bowman (Twitter links) provided contract details

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


AL East Notes: Lester, Holt, Grilli, Levine

After covering some Orioles Notes and Rays Notes earlier tonight, let’s look elsewhere around the American League East…

  • Cubs southpaw Jon Lester discussed a number of topics during a radio interview on WEEI’s Hot Stove Show, including the extension negotiations that took place between he and the Red Sox last spring.  When asked if he would’ve accepted an extension in the range of five years and $120MM, Lester said, “That is one of those deals where hindsight is 20/20. You go back in time and you look at it and you go probably yes.  I mean you don’t know. I mean it is one of those deals where when it is sitting in front of you that is a lot of money to turn down. That would have made it very difficult to turn it down.”  Boston instead opened talks with a below-market four-year/$70MM offer that seemed to be the first step towards Lester eventually leaving the club.  (Hat tip to WEEI.com’s Ryan Hannable for the partial transcript of Lester’s comments.)
  • The Red Sox highly value Brock Holt and have little interest in trading him, two sources tell MassLive.com’s Jason Mastrodonato.  Holt’s versatility makes him a very important bench piece for Boston, and the team isn’t likely to deal the utilityman unless they receive an offer too good to refuse.
  • The Yankees may not be done adding bullpen pieces, but they’re apparently not interested in righty Jason Grilli, George A. King III of the New York Post reports.  Gary Sheffield, Grilli’s agent, tells King that “We talked to Cash [Brian Cashman], and he said ‘not at the moment.’ We will sit back with the offers we have and wait.”
  • In another piece from George A. King III, Yankees president Randy Levine seemed to rule out the possibility that his team will sign Max Scherzer, without mentioning the free agent righty by name.  “We are out there looking [for pitching], but it has to be tempered by the reality of the organization. Looking at our pitching staff, for example, we have two guys with a lot of money and we have to build around that,” Levine said.  “The chances of us bringing in a guy for six [years] and $25 million [per year] or over in my opinion is virtually none. At the end of the day, you have to be realistic in any organization.”  While James Shields, another top-tier free agent ace, isn’t expected to receive a deal in the six-year/$25MM average annual value range, King thinks Shields could also be out of the Yankees’ price range.

Free Agent Rumors: Furcal, Grilli, Young, Mets

Free agent infielder Rafael Furcal could be a fit for the Royals on a minor league deal thanks to his connection with GM Dayton Moore, according to Tim Dierkes of MLBTR (via Twitter).  Here are some of the latest free agency rumors out of San Diego..

  • Jason Grilli has multiple offers from teams in major markets but the Tigers are not one of them, his agent tells Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press (on Twitter).
  • The Rangers have interest in Eric Young Jr., but they may have already been outbid, according to Evan Grant of The Dallas Morning News.
  • Mets GM Sandy Alderson says he is considering bidding in the posting of Jung-ho Kang, but he’s unresolved as to whether he will, tweets Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com.
  • The Orioles could be a landing spot for former Rangers pitcher Alexi Ogando, according to T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com (via Twitter).
  • After signing Jon Lester, the Cubs are now pursuing outfielder Jonny Gomes in an apparent effort to get the band back together, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today (via Twitter).
  • Catcher David Ross tells Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe (via Twitter) that he’s not close on a deal with any club even though he has interest from the Red Sox, Cubs, Braves, D’Backs, and Padres.

Reliever Rumors: Grilli, Braves, Farnsworth

The latest bullpen news..

  • The Braves have interest in free agent reliever Jason Grilli, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today (on Twitter).  The Yankees have reportedly discussed Grilli as well.
  • The Astros have yet to talk to Grilli, but that could change, as Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle tweets.
  • Veteran reliever Kyle Farnsworth is out pounding the pavement in an effort to find a deal, tweets Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.  Farnsworth told Topkin that he’s “too young to coach.”  Farnsworth pitched to a 4.40 ERA with 5.7 K/9 and 4.7 BB/9 in 35 appearances for the Mets and Astros last season.

AL East Notes: Craig, Miller, Grilli, Jays

The Marlins are known to be looking for first base help and Allen Craig is the latest name to be added to their list of potential trade targets, Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald reports (Twitter link).  Dealing Craig would help the Red Sox clear out some of their outfield surplus, while giving Miami a right-handed bat to platoon with Garrett Jones at first base.  The Marlins are dangling young pitchers in trades, though I’m not sure this would necessarily appeal to Boston — the Sox already have plenty of young arms and if they did move an outfielder, they’d likely prefer a proven starter who can immediately be slotted into their 2015 rotation.

Here’s some more from around the AL East…

  • Andrew Miller is in serious negotiations with between eight and 10 teams, Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reports.  The Orioles aren’t one of the suitors, as Miller’s four-year asking price is higher than they would like to give to a setup man.  Miller has already received multiple three-year offers and reportedly received interest from 22 of the league’s 30 teams.
  • The Yankees have discussed signing Jason Grilli, WFAN’s Sweeny Murti reports.  Grilli could be pursued by the team if David Robertson leaves in free agency.
  • The Blue Jays are in need of relief pitching but would GM Alex Anthopoulos break from his usual modest bullpen spending and pursue a big-ticket reliever like Miller or Robertson?  Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith looks at the pros and cons of signing relievers to big contracts.
  • In a reader mailbag piece, MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm figures the Blue Jays have at least $20MM “and possibly even upward of $30MM” in remaining payroll space, provided that Anthopoulos and Paul Beeston were correct in saying that the club’s payroll would grow past its $137MM mark from 2014.  Some of the space could be created if J.A. Happ or Dioner Navarro are traded.
  • Also from Chisholm’s mailbag, he cites some reasons some players are reluctant to come to Toronto, such as the Rogers Centre’s artificial surface or a lack of desire to move to Canada.  Cole Hamels, Howie Kendrick, Justin Upton and Jay Bruce are just a few of the notable players who reportedly have the Jays on their no-trade lists, though Chisholm notes that several players with trade protection include AL East teams for financial leverage purposes.
  • Sean Rodriguez was “definitely surprised” to be designated for assignment by the Rays, the utilityman tells Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.  “This (stinks) right now, but I feel like it may be an opportunity,” Rodriguez said. “What I bring to the table (in terms of versatility) is something a lot of teams like and want to have more of.”