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Jason Hammel Rumors
Congratulations are in order for Giants righty Tim Lincecum, who earlier today completed his second no-hitter of the division-rival Padres in the past calendar year. “Big Time Timmy Jim” was masterful, yielding just one walk and fanning six Friars on a mere 113 pitches in his historic gem.
Here are some notes from around the National League West:
- Jonah Keri, writing for Grantland, details some of the missteps made by former Padres GM Josh Byrnes but also notes that he was able to buy low on significant pieces such as Tyson Ross, Ian Kennedy and Seth Smith. Byrnes’ bigger failures were in evaluating Major League talent, he writes, but even that isn’t San Diego’s biggest problem. Rather, Keri opines, their problems are rooted in poor ownership decisions that have forced the hands of GMs Byrnes, Jed Hoyer and Kevin Towers in the draft, resulting in an abysmal track record in the first round. He adds that current leaders Ron Fowler and Mike Dee have been involved with ownership dating back into the 90s (Dee did leave for a decade but returned last summer) and wonders if relying on some of the same names they have been for decades could “turn out to be a bug, not a feature.”
- We took a look last night at the latest on the Padres‘ search for a new GM. It appears that the first interview will go to former Marlins president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest, per a tweet from MLB.com’s Corey Brock. Elsewhere, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports provides a full piece expanding upon his report last night regarding possible candidates for the gig. Finally, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports tweets that the Yankees plan on granting the Padres permission to interview assistant GM Billy Eppler, who is on San Diego’s list.
- The Giants had some interest in adding Jason Hammel when he was available as a free agent, tweets Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. Morosi suggests that the club’s previous interest could make San Francisco a possible suitor for the Cubs starter at the trade deadline.
- Dodgers middle infielder Alex Guerrero has made significant progress in his recovery from a strange ear-biting incident earlier in the year, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. He is expected to begin baseball activities again soon. The Cuban signee, who was off to an impressive start at the plate in Triple-A, could presumably still figure in the club’s plans this year.
- Earlier today it was reported that Joaquin Benoit and Huston Street of the Padres were garnering serious trade interest, and reports also indicated that the D’Backs are preparing to sell, with Brandon McCarthy in particular drawing interest.
Steve Adams contributed to this post.
- The Blue Jays are highly unlikely to deal for Cubs hurler Jeff Samardzija, and the clubs have not swapped trade proposals in some time. While a deal centered around pitching prospects Aaron Sanchez and Daniel Norris has been floated in the media, a source tells Heyman that there is “zero chance” that Toronto would part with that package.
- Instead, Toronto will probably focus more on the the “rental” market, says Heyman. But with many teams still waiting to see how they perform over the next month, the supply remains uncertain. Heyman cites Justin Masterson (Indians), Jorge De La Rosa (Rockies), Francisco Liriano (Pirates), and Jake Peavy (Red Sox) as arms that could join Jason Hammel of the Cubs in that segment of the market.
- The Jays are also likely to “take another look” at adding a second baseman after losing Brett Lawrie for a month or more to a broken finger. While minor league signee Juan Francisco will play third in the meantime, and now looks like an even more important piece of the puzzle, the club is running out a less-than-ideal assortment of options at second. Heyman suggests that the Jays would have interest in Chase Utley, but it remains far from clear that he will be an achievable target.
- The Mariners made a run at Kendrys Morales before he signed with the Twins, and Heyman has details. Seattle discussed a two-year concept and also offered a one-year deal for about $5MM.
- That would seem to reflect a desire to add bats, but GM Jack Zduriencik says that he is “wide open” in approaching acquisitions. According to Heyman, the team is interested in adding controllable, younger bats or starting pitching. Seattle has spoken with the Cubs about both Hammel and Samardzija, though the club remains loath to give up either Taijuan Walker or James Paxton. While the club seemingly would deal away some of its young position players — such as Dustin Ackley, Justin Smoak, and Nick Franklin — it seems disinclined to part with them for less than a compelling return.
- While the M’s have plenty of strategic approaches available, one big issue cited recently has been the team’s apparent inability and/or unwillingness to add payroll. Heyman says that the club may have some free cash “for the right player,” however, possibly relating to incentives in Corey Hart‘s contract that will not be met.
Here’s the latest out of the NL Central:
- If the Cubs trade Jason Hammel as expected, the 31-year-old says that he would be open to returning to Chicago in the winter. “I would assume they are pretty happy with my body of work so far and if a trade happens it happens,” Hammel said, according to Jesse Rogers of ESPNChicago.com. “But I guarantee, say I was to go to another team, I love it here. I guarantee you they wouldn’t be opposed to bringing me back next year.“
- The Cubs‘ roster moves on Sunday will have long and short-term implications for the club, writes Bruce Miles of the Daily Herald. The Cubs designated catcher Eli Whiteside for assignment and filled his spot on the roster with Tsuyoshi Wada. Wada, who had an opt-out clause in his deal, could be a replacement in the rotation when and if they trade Jeff Samardzija and/or Hammel.
- Don’t look now, but the Cardinals are about to promote another promising young arm in 2013 first-rounder Marco Gonzales. As Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch recently wrote, the lefty (whose best offering is said to be the change-up) had been following the track of the man whose rotation spot he will occupy. Of course, that also means concern for St. Louis fans, as Michael Wacha will hit the DL (along with fellow starter Jaime Garcia). As Goold reports, Wacha is dealing with a “stress reaction” to his scapula, which GM John Mozeliak says the club will handle carefully since the injury “is not a very common injury to pitchers and one that we don’t have a ton of experience on how to deal with it.”
- The Pirates may soon be looking at some roster challenges as players filter back from injury, writes Ron Cook of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. While the club can wait to settle on its rotation until after Francisco Liriano returns, which is still expected to be a few weeks off, the pending activation of Neil Walker could create a more immediate pinch. With Josh Harrison carrying a 131 wRC+ and offering immense versatility, Cook suggests that veteran Clint Barmes may be expendable for Pittsburgh.
Jeff Todd contributed to this post.
It’s been a rough week for the Rockies, who have lost five games in a row, got no-hit by Clayton Kershaw on Wednesday and allowed three runs to score on one wild pitch in yesterday’s 9-4 defeat to the Brewers. Here’s the latest on a Colorado team that is trying to hang on in the NL playoff race…
- The Rockies aren’t interested in Cubs starters Jeff Samardzija or Jason Hammel, Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post reports.
- It may be too soon to tell if the Rockies will be sellers or buyers at the trade deadline, but if the team does decide to sell, Saunders notes that two of its key trade chips have very limited value at the moment. Michael Cuddyer is on the DL until August, while southpaw Jorge De La Rosa is battling a stiff back and has pitched poorly over his last three outings.
- In an MLB Network Radio appearance today, Rockies director of Major League Operations Bill Geivett told Jim Duquette and Jim Bowden that Troy Tulowitzki won’t be traded and Geivett hopes the star shortstop will spend his entire career in Colorado (via Duquette’s Twitter account). With Tulowitzki healthy and putting up MVP numbers, it could be argued his trade value has never been higher, though Geivett and other members of Rockies management have steadfastly insisted for a few years now that Tulowitzki isn’t going to be dealt.
The trade deadline is rapidly approaching and while things figure to get exciting over the next month and change, not everyone is drooling over what might be available. “To be honest, I don’t see much out there,” an official of one contender told Jayson Stark of ESPN.com. “Who’s even selling? And what are they selling? I know there will be guys to trade for. But where’s the quality?” The whole column is worth a read, but here are some of the highlights from Stark’s latest..
- The Rays front office believed that they had the talent to win it all this year and that optimism could play into how they approach the deadline. The Rays aren’t selling and Stark writes that if they believe what they have can power them to a championship next season, they might stand pat and keep the band together. Teams that have spoken with Tampa Bay see a fire sale as unlikely.
- The Rays might listen on Ben Zobrist, but one exec who has spoken with the club gets the sense that it would be “really, really difficult” for them to part with him. The exception to all of this, of course, is David Price.
- The Phillies are expected to be open for business between now and the deadline, but they might not like the offers that come in. “Look at their trade chips,” said an NL executive. “Even if they blow it up, dangle [Cole] Hamels and dangle all these other guys, each one of those guys has some reason it will be hard for them to get back what they want.“
- Meanwhile, one exec flatly said a Chase Utley trade is “not happening.” The sticker price might not be met on Phillies like Cliff Lee, Jonathan Papelbon, and Jimmy Rollins, but teams see Domonic Brown as someone whom the Phillies would like to swap for a different young change-of-scenery candidate.
- Teams that have spoken with the Cubs expect them to move pitcher Jason Hammel in the next two weeks. That could just be the warm up for Jeff Samardzija, but they continue to tell teams that they’d like to hammer out a new contract with him. This week we learned that the Cubs ace rejected a five-year, $85MM+ offer.
- While some teams are beating around the bush, the Padres are aggressively letting teams know that they want to sell. All of their outfielders, except Cameron Maybin, are available, and that includes Seth Smith, Chris Denorfia, and Will Venable.
- Several teams report the Dodgers are telling them they’ll listen right now on every one of their outfielders except Yasiel Puig.
- The Yankees have been asking almost exclusively about starting pitching in their preliminary conversations.
- Teams that have talked with the Tigers say they’re focused on bullpen upgrades, not shortstop.
- The Angels are in the bullpen market, but they’re looking hard at left-handed-relief options, not closers.
- Things are murky around the D’Backs since no one really knows who is in charge their or what their goals are.
- Royals GM Dayton Moore has indicated that the Royals can add payroll, but clubs believe that he won’t get to go-ahead to spend until mid-July. When and if KC starts buying, they are expected to target right fielders and bullpen arms since that is what they’ve been asking about in conversations.
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JUNE 16: In addition to discussing Samardzija and Hammel trades, the Cubs are at least willing to consider the possibility of moving additional arms, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports (Twitter links). Morosi hears Chicago is trying to gauge the market on Samardzija, Hammel, Edwin Jackson and even Jake Arrieta.
It’s not surprising that they’d be willing to move Jackson, as they undoubtedly would be pleased to shed some of his salary obligations — he is owed roughly $28.3MM through 2016 — but Arrieta is somewhat of a surprise. Chicago acquired him in last year’s Scott Feldman trade, and he’s off to an outstanding start in 2014, having pitched to a 2.09 ERA with 9.2 K/9, 2.9 BB/9 and a 52.1 percent ground-ball rate in 43 innings. Still just 28 years old, Arrieta is not yet arbitration eligible and is under team control through 2017, so it stands to reason that the asking price would be high.
Listening on Arrieta is a bit puzzling, as one would think he’s the type of arm the Cubs would like to build their rotation around, but he’s also battled injuries and has never been able to consistently succeed in the Majors, despite having the talent to do so. As Morosi notes, the Cubs aren’t planning to trade all four starters, but rather is doing its due diligence to know the market value of each starter heading into trade season.
JUNE 14: The Cubs are already discussing trades involving starting pitchers Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel with at least two teams, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reports. Interested teams include the Braves, Blue Jays and Mariners, and Wittenmyer cites one source from within baseball who tells him Hammel is likely to wind up with Seattle.
With about six weeks left to go before the trade deadline, the Cubs are 27-38, 11 1/2 games behind the Brewers in the NL Central. It is, of course, not necessarily surprising that the Cubs would consider trading two veteran pitchers who are having good seasons. Samardzija, who is eligible for free agency following the 2015 season, currently has a 2.77 ERA with 8.1 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 in 91 innings. Hammel, who’s signed to a one-year deal for $6MM, is in the midst of the best season of his career, with a 2.81 ERA with 8.2 K/9 and 1.9 BB/9.
Steve Adams contributed to this post.
In his Sunday Baseball Notes column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reminisces about a pitchers’ duel between the Red Sox’s Luis Tiant and the Angels’ Nolan Ryan 40 years ago, the likes of which we may never see again in today’s game. Tiant threw 195 pitches and was still on the hill when the Angels scored the game-winner with one out in the bottom of the 15th inning. Ryan, meanwhile, tossed 235 pitches in a meager 13 innings of work. “When you took the baseball, you wanted to finish what you started,” Tiant told Cafardo. “I didn’t even feel tired. I could have gone as long as I had to go. They beat me on a ground ball that went through the second baseman’s legs. It was the 15th inning and I was OK.” The last pitcher to pitch more than nine innings in a MLB game was Cliff Lee, who lasted ten innings in April 2012.
Here’s more from Cafardo’s column:
- Speaking of Lee, the Phillies left-hander will likely have to be a post-waiver deadline deal since he won’t have enough time between now and July 31st to rehab his strained elbow. Lee should be able to clear waivers because he has two years left on his deal at $25MM each.
- Jonathan Papelbon is pitching a lot better and there’s an expectation he could be one of the first Phillies to go once they decide to sell. One AL scout who has watched Papelbon’s outings said, “I’ll give him credit. I think he’s learning to pitch with what he’s got left. He’s not 96-98 [miles per hour], but he’s getting back up to 92-93 and making a lot of good adjustments.” Cafardo wonders if he could be a future member of the Tigers or Orioles.
- When Marco Scutaro returns from his back injury, he will likely become the Giants‘ utilityman and GM Brian Sabean is trying to add a second baseman by the trading deadline. Chase Utley would be a great fit, but Cafardo wonders if the Phillies will actually deal him, whether the veteran would waive his ten-and-five rights, and whether the Giants would give up the necessary bounty to acquire him. Ultimately, SF could set its sights lower.
- Cubs right-hander Jason Hammel is having a good season, but the scouting community is mixed on what impact he’d have on a contending team. Some question whether he can keep up this pace or whether he’ll be more of a back-of-the-rotation starter. Even positive comments Cafardo has heard have been tagged with the caveat you wouldn’t give up the farm for him.
- Despite the harsh assessment of the Padres‘ season by club CEO Mike Dee recently, Cafardo finds it hard to imagine Bud Black losing his job and opines firing him would be a mistake because he is seen as one of the game’s best managers in the eyes of a lot of baseball executives.
Edward Creech contributed to this post.
With the draft in the rear-view mirror, the league’s attention will increasingly turn to the coming summer trade market — though, with so many teams still in the hunt and so much money owed to many possible trade candidates, Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch wonders if it will be a sluggish market.
Here’s the latest on some teams and players who could be discussed:
- The Diamondbacks, who feature a roster with several attractive veteran pieces, have also been widely noted for their abundance of quality young middle infielders. As Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports (Twitter links), current Triple-A shortstop Nick Ahmed has sparked interest from multiple other clubs. Ahmed, 24, is known as an outstanding defensive player and has enjoyed his most productive season at the plate this year with a .304/.385/.401 line in 250 plate appearances in his first run at Triple-A.
- The Rays should consider putting ace David Price on the market now rather than waiting for the deadline to approach, opines MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince. Tampa may not achieve the return it hopes for if it waits, says Castrovince, citing a variety of reasons — including the current proliferation of teams still in the hunt, the possibility that Cubs hurler Jeff Samardzija may approach or even surpass him in value, and the potential introduction of Royals’ ace James Shields into the discussion.
- Price may be the Rays‘ most valuable trade chip, but the versatile Ben Zobrist would draw the widest interest if he is put on the block, tweets Rosenthal. The 33-year-old jack of all trades is owed just $7MM this year and comes with an attractive $7.5MM club option for 2015.
- Indeed, Peter Gammons of GammonsDaily.com writes that Zobrist is “the perfect acquisition for a team like the Tigers, Giants, or Dodgers.” As I noted a few days ago, he would also make sense for a team like the Nationals if they decide to add an impact veteran, and there are surely many others with possible interest.
- Gammons goes on to cite a few other possibly overlooked trade possibilities. He lists Bartolo Colon of the Mets and Steve Cishek of the Marlins in addition to some more commonly mentioned names like Jason Hammel of the Cubs, and Chase Headley of the Padres.
- Cliff Lee of the Phillies, a hypothetically intriguing trade candidate, finally threw a baseball yesterday for the first time since May 18, reports Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com. After what he described as a “light throwing session,” Lee said that his elbow was feeling “better.” Of course, he would need to make it back for at least a few starts to allow Philadelphia to recoup anything close to maximum value were they to shop him.
- In today’s Baseball Tonight podcast (audio link), ESPN’s Buster Olney says that hears the Cubs will approach this year’s deadline as they did in 2013, dealing one pitcher early as they did with Scott Feldman last year and waiting until later to move a second, as they did with Matt Garza. Presumably, that’d mean Jason Hammel would be moved first, with Jeff Samardzija being moved later. His colleague, Keith Law, feels the strategy can work, as there will never be enough starting pitchers for all the teams looking to buy, and the price for Hammel isn’t as difficult to agree upon. Moving Hammel early on forces interested clubs to force on the bigger target later in the deadline as the need becomes greater.
- Olney lists the Blue Jays, the Orioles and the Athletics as teams that could have early interest in Hammel, and he wonders if the recent injuries to the Pirates‘ rotation would cause them to jump into the mix. Law feels the Angels could be added to that mix, as their weak farm system would prevent them from adding a big-name starter.
The Diamondbacks announced today that outfielder A.J. Pollock underwent surgery to repair a right hand fracture and would not resume baseball activity for eight weeks. Pollock, 26, had been a rare bright spot on one of baseball’s most disappointing clubs, emerging with a .316/.366/.554 triple-slash with six home runs and eight stolen bases in 192 plate appearances. Here’s more from around the league:
- The Royals could enter the running to sign first baseman/DH Kendrys Morales to bolster a sagging offense, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. While no serious discussions have happened to date, the club is not ruling out the possibility, adds Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star (via Twitter). According to Heyman, pursuit of Morales would require the Royals to move some salary off its books. Ticking through the team’s roster, the most obvious big-salary trade candidate (assuming, of course, that the team is looking to make a run) is DH Billy Butler, who earns $8.5MM this year and comes with a $12.5MM club option ($1MM buyout) for 2015. But his defensive limitations and serious struggles this year make it somewhat difficult to imagine that the team will be able to find a buyer willing to take on enough salary to make the switch-out plausible — especially since clubs looking at Butler would presumably also have interest in Morales. (Then, there’s the question whether Kansas City could both lock up Morales and dump Butler or another contract in early June.)
- Meanwhile, the Yankees have made contact with Morales but are waiting to learn more on Mark Teixeira‘s wrist re-aggravation before acting decisively, Heyman reports. Turning to analysis, Heyman writes that the Yankees have many reasons to pursue Morales strongly, whether or not they get good news on Teixeira in the coming days.
- Informed of recent comments from Red Sox president and CEO Larry Lucchino indicating that the club expects to re-engage him in extension talks, Jon Lester emphasized that he remains focused on the season at hand, reports Boston.com’s Maureen Mullen. “I think right now, obviously with us playing good baseball and us focused on what we need to do today, I think that’s where we need to stay,” he said. “The contract talks will come at the right time. … [T]hat time’ll come, whether it’s tomorrow, I don’t know. Whether it’s in the offseason, I don’t know. We’ll figure that out as we go.”
- Carlos Villanueva of the Cubs says that he and fellow righty Jason Hammel hope to stay with the team but realize they could be traded, reports MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat. “What’s happened here the last couple years, you can’t help but wonder if you’re going to be one of those guys, too,” he said. “When they sign here, they know. They know the direction this team is going.” Both pitchers, explained Villanueva, have played with multiple clubs and understand the business of the game. “In a perfect world, we could stay here and build around the young guys, and we could be part of the upswing of the team,” he said. “That could still happen — we’re still here, we’re going to make the most of it.”
Speculation has heightened as to when the Cardinals will call up top prospect Oscar Taveras. He is part of a special trio of Triple-A outfielders, along with Stephen Piscotty and Randal Grichuk, a scout tells Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter links). That same scout said that Taveras needs a new challenge at this point. “He’s on cruise control,” he said. “Gives away at-bats. Needs to play with more urgency. He’ll get a wake-up call but it will take [the] big leagues to do it.” Of course, whatever his level of motivation and effort, Taveras has played well; he entered the day with a .304/.354/.509 line through 175 plate appearances.
Here are some more stray notes to round out the evening:
- While he remains winless, Cubs starter Jeff Samardzija continues to drive up his stock with an outstanding start to the season. Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com writes that the club should shop him this summer at peak value; as a GM tells Heyman, Chicago will “want top, top guys” in return. Heyman lists the ten clubs that could possibly match up on Samardzija, topped by the three northernmost A.L. East clubs.
- While Heyman puts the Yankees first among possible Samardzija suitors, Ken Davidoff of the New York Post says that fellow Cubs starter Jason Hammel may make more sense for New York. Samardzija may price himself out of the Yanks’ reach in terms of a prospect package, says Davidoff. While Cliff Lee of the Phillies would also be of interest — and, presumably, be more achievable for the Yankees given his hefty contract — he now has significant arm issues for the first time in his career.
- The early-agreement trend on the July 2 international market has not only changed the dynamics of the market itself, writes Ben Badler of Baseball America, but has made it more difficult for prospect watchers to scout players. When players reach terms, they tend to steer clear of showcases and tryouts. As Badler notes, increasingly aggressive signing tactics also “elevate the risk and uncertainty” for teams, because young players can change so much in a short period of time.
- Now a decade in the past, the 2004 amateur draft understandably looks quite different in retrospect. ESPN.com’s Keith Law takes a look back in two Insider pieces (subscription required). There were many misses, of course, headlined by first overall pick Matt Bush. If teams had perfect foresight at the time, says Law, the first three choices would have brought Justin Verlander to the Padres, Dustin Pedroia to the Tigers, and Jered Weaver to the Mets.