Jason Castro Rumors
The Rangers could become serious contenders for Carlos Beltran's services, writes Andy Martino of the New York Daily News. The Yankees, Red Sox, Orioles, Royals and Mariners have also been mentioned in whispers about Beltran, but rumors about Beltran and the Rangers really seem to be gathering steam. The Rangers can use the help in their outfield and/or at their DH position, particularly if Nelson Cruz ends up leaving. Here are more notes about the Rangers and Astros.
- The Rangers will not pursue Masahiro Tanaka or Matt Garza this offseason, Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram tweets. "We’re not right now looking to give out a big multiyear deal for a starter," says GM Jon Daniels. Starting pitcher Matt Harrison, who missed most of the 2013 season due to injury, tells Wilson he "feel[s] good" about returning to the Rangers' rotation in 2014. If he's healthy, the Rangers don't have a pronounced need for a starting pitcher, with Harrison, Yu Darvish, Derek Holland, Martin Perez, Alexi Ogando and Nick Tepesch all in the fold.
- The Astros don't expect to trade catcher Jason Castro, MLB.com's Brian McTaggart reports. "I’m never going to say someone is untouchable. But we fully expect Jason to be on our club for a long time to come," says GM Jeff Luhnow. "He’s reaching his peak. He was our All-Star last year. He’s a team leader." Earlier today, it emerged that other teams had been asking the Astros about Castro, who hit .276/.350/.485 in 2013.
- The Astros don't expect to make a big move in free agency this winter, McTaggart writes. Given that the Astros still aren't a contender, they're reluctant to part with the draft pick they would lose if they signed a free agent who received a qualifying offer. They also don't want to commit to long contracts at this point.
The Astros are receiving significant interest in catcher Jason Castro, and interest could pick up once big free agents like Brian McCann and Jarrod Saltalamacchia go off the board, writes Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Their interest in trading Castro isn't known, but Houston is said to like catching prospect Max Stassi very much. Heyman sees the Yankees, Rangers, Red Sox, Blue Jays, Angels, Rockies, and Twins as teams that could possibly have interest if Castro is on the block. Here's more out of the AL West..
- The Mariners are more immersed in the Carlos Beltran-Jhonny Peralta-Kendrys Morales market than Jacoby Ellsbury at this point, tweets Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com.
- Brian McTaggart of MLB.com (Twitter link) doesn't see the Astros trading Castro. Even though Castro is starting to make some money - the catcher is projected to earn $2.2MM in arbitration this year - they're not deep enough at catcher to lose him and the club needs to take a step forward.
- Richard Durrett of ESPNDallas.com examined Carlos Ruiz as a possible fit for the Rangers if they don't land top catcher Brian McCann.
- More from Durrett, who believes that Jurickson Profar's trade value hasn't decreased much despite a down year in 2013.
- The Angels' best bet for acquiring quality pitching via trade would be to part with Mark Trumbo, even though losing him would hurt, writes Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com.
The Astros might not aim on contending in 2014, but don't be surprised if Houston is one of the offseason's busier teams as the team continues its extensive rebuilding project. Evan Drellich of the Houstron Chronicle has the latest from Astros GM Jeff Luhnow...
- The Astros will look to add some pop to their lineup, Luhnow said, with the outfield being the most logical spot given that most of their infield is set.
- The club could also add a hitter to the first base/DH mix, which is why Luhnow said the Astros were contenders for Jose Dariel Abreu, who ended up signing a six-year, $68MM deal with the White Sox. “We pursued that player and we came up short,” Luhnow said. “That particular case was interesting because the player’s never played in the United States, but the track record in Cuba is pretty impressive, and we had done our homework and felt like that player should produce immediately.”
- The Astros intend to raise their 2014 payroll, and Luhnow said this allows the team to pursue some new avenues. “We have the resources to sign players and agents reach out no matter what,” Luhnow said. “(The level of communication has) not changed. We’re able to engage in a lot more conversations that we weren’t the past couple years. It opens up a different caliber of pool of players for us.”
- The Astros' first overall draft pick is protected but the team would still have to give up its second round pick if they signed a free agent who has rejected a qualifying offer. Luhnow said the Astros would "have to think hard" about giving up such a valuable young asset for such a veteran who could help immediately but would come at a high price. There have been rumors that Houston is willing to make a big splash this winter by pursuing Shin-Soo Choo.
- Whle the Astros are still focused on adding young talent, they could be open to trading some of that young talent if they feel they have a surplus in a certain area. "So we’re not going to do anything to block any of our players or disrupt their development. But you can argue that we’re in a position where we have some areas of excess in terms of future talent, and we could potentially use some of that to get something," Luhnow said.
- The team hasn't begun talks with Jason Castro's representatives about a long-term extension and none are expected until around January when arbitration decisions are nearing, Luhnow said. Castro is arbitration-eligible for the first time this offseason and is Houston's lone remaining arb-eligible player. MLBTR's Matt Swartz projects Castro to receive a $2.2MM salary for 2014.
A few items of note on the club formerly known as the Colt .45s as Albert Pujols smacks a walkoff homer, his second jack of the day:
- The Astros continue to deny any rumors that they've been trying to work out a pre-draft deal with Stanford pitcher Chris Reed with the intent of selecting him at No. 11 overall, tweets Stephen Goff of the Houston Examiner. Goff predicts the Astros will take Archie Bradley (Twitter link), and ESPN.com's Keith Law writes in his latest mock draft that they'll take prep shortstop Francisco Lindor or Bradley if he's still available.
- The Astros have improved their farm system under GM Ed Wade and his stable of area scouts, according to Goff. Wade's first draft as Astros GM was in 2008, when Houston selected Jason Castro and Jordan Lyles, both of whom have reached the bigs.
- In contrast to their relative improvements in drafting and developing minor league players, Wade admitted that releasing Bill Hall represented a failure in judgment, writes Zachary Levine of the Houston Chronicle.
Blue Jays' rookie third baseman Brett Lawrie has been raking this spring but the 21-year-old might not start the year in the majors, writes Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. The club might send him to the minors to work on his defense - and to prevent him from becoming eligible for a fourth year of arbitration. Here's more from Rosenthal..
- One scout following the Tigers says the team is deep enough in young outfielders to possibly move one for a starting pitcher. Right now, Brennan Boesch, Clete Thomas, Casper Wells, and Andy Dirks are all vying for reserve spots. Wells appears to be a lock to make the big league roster as he is the only right-handed hitter of the bunch and plays all three outfield positions.
- The Marlins are talking about signing second baseman Luis Castillo once he clears waivers, but they also have in-house options. The club could decide to go with Emilio Bonifacio at second and Omar Infante at third if they choose to demote rookie third baseman Matt Dominguez.
- If the Astros go with Carlos Lee over Brett Wallace at first base they would like to add a left-handed hitting outfielder to platoon with Jason Michaels. However, the club is at the payroll limit and the team's greater need is a replacement for catcher Jason Castro.
Links for Friday as Jake Peavy prepares for his first game action since last July. Peavy faces the Angels in Arizona this afternoon...
- Chris Richard, an outfielder/first baseman who spent parts of five seasons in the majors with the Orioles, Rays, Rockies and Cardinals, has announced his retirement, according to Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times (on Twitter).
- The Angels offered Carl Crawford $108MM with an $18MM option, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com (on Twitter). No wonder the outfielder accepted Boston's $142MM offer.
- Vernon Wells would have accepted a trade to the Yankees, not just to the Rangers or Angels, according to Heyman (on Twitter).
- Rangers higher-ups want Neftali Feliz to make the team's rotation, according to Heyman (on Twitter).
- Astros catcher Jason Castro could miss the entire season, after tearing his right ACL, according to MLB.com's Brian McTaggart.
- Richard Justice of the Houston Chronicle thinks the Astros should completely look to the future and start looking to trade the likes of Lance Berkman, Brett Myers, Matt Lindstrom and other notable players. Justice sets 2012 as the date when Houston "might be good again" and says "if [Astros GM Ed Wade] thinks a player would still be capable of contributing in 2012, then he ought to stay."
- Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle dismisses a reader's tweet about any possible interest from the Giants in Oswalt, replying that San Fran needs hitting, not (another) ace pitcher. In another tweet, he mentions that Berkman is an Astro who would "make more sense" for a Giants trade, and adds that it wouldn't take a prospect the caliber of Madison Bumgarner or Buster Posey to make it happen.
- An unnamed Reds official "was intrigued" at Oswalt's availability, reports John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer. Fay is doubtful a trade could be worked out due to Oswalt's contract, but he notes that Oswalt's 2010 salary isn't much larger than those of Aaron Harang and Bronson Arroyo, both of whom can be bought out of their 2011 contracts for $2MM. (Harang's buyout is worth $500K more if he's traded.) An NBA-style deal for a semi-expiring contract might interest the Astros since it would free up a lot of payroll space.
- Wade tells MLB.com's Brian McTaggart that catching prospect Jason Castro still needs some more time at Triple-A before Houston thinks about calling him up. Castro, the 10th overall pick in the 2008 amateur draft, has a peculiar .259/.390/.295 line in 136 plate appearances for Triple-A Round Rock this season.
- The Astros will have a hard time getting full value back for Oswalt, says R.J. Anderson of Fangraphs. Anderson notes that only the Padres were able to get a good return on a pitcher in a similar situation when they dealt Jake Peavy to Chicago.
David Murphy offers up an insight into the Phillies issues this week, stating that the Phillies will likely be far less active than last year, when they signed Raul Ibanez, set their sights on Chan Ho Park, and extended Jamie Moyer. The Phils have already signed Placido Polanco, Brian Schneider, and Juan Castro this offseason, leaving general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. with fewer needs during his trip to Indianapolis:
- Despite locking up Brad Lidge, Ryan Madson, and J.C. Romero over the past few seasons, the Phillies find themselves in need of relief help. As we all know, Lidge was dreadful in 2009 and is coming off arthroscopic elbow surgery. Romero is coming off surgery as well and could miss a month of the season. Brandon Lyon is the team's primary target.
- Amaro has said adding a bench bat is bottom on his list of priorities, as the spot could be filled by recently-signed minor league free agent Dewayne Wise, or prospect John Mayberry Jr. Still, a move shouldn't be ruled out, according to Murphy.
- In regards to a No. 5 starter, the Phillies haven't ruled out a return for Pedro Martinez, but Murphy feels it is unlikely. While Kyle Kendrick was impressive late in the season last year, an alternative to him and Jamie Moyer wouldn't hurt.
- Murphy is interested to see the outcome of the Rule 5 Draft on Thursday this week, given the Phillies' success there in the past. Perhaps you've heard of Shane Victorino? He turned out to be an OK selection.
Richard Justice of The Houston Chronicle writes that the Astros are "unlikely to be significant players in free agency this winter." The team is trying to lower payroll and get younger, something signing free agents generally won't accomplish. Justice does say that the club would like to retain relievers LaTroy Hawkins and Jose Valverde, both of whom will be free agents after this year.
Houston started the season with close to a $103MM payroll according to Cot's, but they could shed $17.75MM by letting Miguel Tejada, Mike Hampton, and Darin Erstad walk as free agents. However, a significant chunk of those savings will probably end up being redistributed to Wandy Rodriguez and Hunter Pence, both of whom should receive big raises in arbitration (Pence will likely qualify as a Super Two).
In their effort to incorporate more youth into their lineup, Justice says we could see third baseman Chris Johnson, shortstop Tommy Manzella, second baseman Edwin Maysonet, and catcher Jason Castro in the Opening Day lineup next year. The team will also probably ask reliever Wesley Wright to come to camp next year prepared to compete for a rotation spot.
Some preferences, tendencies and opinions from around the majors as Tuesday's draft draws closer:
- John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports that the Reds like Aaron Crow, but don't expect him to be available when they select eighth. Fay says "there's a good chance they'll take him" if he's available.
- Keith Law and Jason A. Churchill of ESPN.com break down the drafting tendencies of each MLB team. For example, the Braves like local high school players and the Mariners lean towards college talent.
- MLB.com's Brian McTaggart says the Astros could go after pitching with the 21st pick, or maybe high schooler Everett Williams. One thing's for sure: the Astros aren't looking for a catcher after selecting Jason Castro last year.
- The Rangers have one of the strongest systems in the game in part because they've drafted well. Jamey Newberg looks at 20 top Rangers prospects in a report for MLB.com.
- ESPN.com's Jayson Stark argues "the most dysfunctional draft in professional sports" needs to put a cap on player bonuses.
- Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that Clay Daniel, the scout who oversaw the signing of players such as Ervin Santana, was fired. He was apparently dismissed because of the "improper activities" of some of the scouts he hired.