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Javier Baez Rumors
This is the third agency that Baez has been with in the past year, as he began with Jet Sports Management and then joined KPS Sports before this most recent switch. Baez is a consensus top 10 prospect in the Majors based on the recent midseason lists compiled by Baseball Prospectus (#5), MLB.com (#6), Baseball America (#7) and Keith Law of ESPN (#8). The 21-year-old is currently hitting .254/.314/.486 with 19 homers at Triple-A Iowa and has recently been seeing some time at second base in addition to his usual position of shortstop — perhaps preparing him for a potential position change at the big league level.
By joining WMG, Baez will be represented by the same agency that represents a vast number of Major Leaguers, including Yoenis Cespedes, Nelson Cruz, Bartolo Colon, Yasiel Puig, Kris Medlen and Addison Reed. For additional agency info on more than 2,000 Major League and Minor League players, check out MLBTR’s Agency Database. If you see any errors or omissions, please contact us via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Cubs are receiving some trade interest in Starlin Castro but don’t expect to trade him this month, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports 1. That lines up with a tweet from Newsday’s David Lennon earlier this week, when Lennon noted that Castro isn’t expected to be dealt in 2015, and the Cubs may slide him over to third base in 2015. That would be a surprise, given the organization’s wealth of third base prospects, although such a move would clear a spot for Javier Baez.
Here’s more on the Cubs and the NL Central…
- For what it’s worth, Baez made his first professional appearance at second base in last night’s Triple-A contest, as first noted by Tommy Birch of the Des Moines Register last night (on Twitter). Getting Baez some looks at second base could also clear a path for him, though the Cubs have been wowed by the early returns on fellow top prospect Arismendy Alcantara. Suffice it to say, the Cubs’ infield depth is flat out enviable.
- Brewers GM Doug Melvin spoke to reporters, including MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy, and discussed the trade deadline. Melvin noted that he will have his ears open, but he isn’t fixated on the idea that making an acquisition is necessary for his team to reach the postseason. He cited a lack of availability of quality first basemen and the eventual returns of Tyler Thornburg and Jim Henderson when asked about perceived needs in the ‘pen and at first. Said Melvin: “If you can add, you add. But I like our team.”
- Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch was a guest on the Baseball Tonight podcast with Buster Olney today and discussed the Cardinals second-half needs. While he says the absence of Yadier Molina should be the team’s biggest issue, a quieter concern is how many innings they get from the rotation. Of the team’s current starters, only Lance Lynn and Adam Wainwright have shown the ability to pitch deep into games. Cardinals starters other than Lynn and Wainwright have averaged just 5 1/3 innings per start.
- Goold also says the Cardinals know that at some point, they have to make some kind of move to address their outfield surplus. Randal Grichuk, Stephen Piscotty, James Ramsey and Oscar Taveras are all potential long-term pieces, and the team also has Peter Bourjos, Jon Jay and Allen Craig as center field/right field options. Dangling Grichuk, Piscotty, Ramsey and Taveras will get them in the conversation for a number of pitchers, he adds.
- Goold thinks the Cardinals would be willing to at least discuss the possibility of sending Taveras to Tampa in a Price trade (though he doesn’t mention specific confirmation of that fact), but such a deal might be contingent on St. Louis securing an extension with Price. Talks between the two sides would be interesting, Goold notes, because the sides value players and value team control so similarly. Olney speculates that Price would be open to an extension with the Cards, noting the proximity of St. Louis to Price’s native Nashville.
The Mets have made Bartolo Colon available in trades, ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin reports. The team isn’t thought to be seriously negotiating a Colon trade at this time, though a Major League source thinks the Mets will start hearing more offers on the veteran right-hander over the next week.
It was reported last week that the Mets were listening to offers for the 41-year-old Colon, who fits as a trade chip given his contract ($3.75MM remaining this season and $11MM in 2015) and the fact that New York has the young pitching depth to take Colon’s spot in the rotation both this season and next. The Mets could wait until past the July 31st deadline to move Colon and “it is not a foregone conclusion that he will be dealt” at all, Rubin writes.
The Mets’ deadline needs include a power-hitting left fielder and a shortstop who can supplant Ruben Tejada, Rubin reports, though these pieces wouldn’t necessarily come from a Colon trade. (While Colon is still pitching effectively, his age will likely prevent the Mets from landing a true impact young player in return.) The Diamondbacks and Cubs stand out as teams with a possible surplus at shortstop, and the Mets have been connected to Didi Gregorius in the past, though Rubin hears that Tony La Russa is still evaluating Arizona’s roster and may wait until the offseason for major moves.
As for the Cubs, the addition of Addison Russell to an organization that already has Starlin Castro in the bigs and star prospect Javier Baez at Triple-A would seem to make them trade partners for the Mets as well. Rubin says that Baez “is believed to be a more realistic target” for the Mets, though it would take a major deal to get Chicago to part with a player who is a consensus top-10 prospect in baseball, despite Baez’s underwhelming Triple-A numbers this season.
To create room in the outfield, the Mets are trying to find trades for Chris Young and Eric Young Jr. Neither player is enjoying a particularly strong season, though Young Jr. will be more attractive to other teams due to his speed (25-for-28 in steals) and two remaining years of team control, whereas Chris Young is owed over $3MM for the rest of the year.
A look at some of the latest pertaining to the White Sox and Cubs…
- In an ESPN Insider piece (subscription recommended), Paul Swydan writes that White Sox GM Rick Hahn and his baseball operations staff are doing an excellent job with the team's rebuild. The Sox are stockpiling young talent such as Adam Eaton, Matt Davidson, Avisail Garcia and Leury Garcia through trades while spending money on young assets like Jose Abreu and still managing to showcase trade chips such as Alejandro De Aza, Adam Dunn and Alexei Ramirez. They're also not stubbornly clinging to the past by overplaying longtime cornerstone Paul Konerko or the disappointing Dayan Viciedo.
- Cubs top prospect Javier Baez provided a reminder that there's more to minor league development than simply producing on the field, writes Gordon Wittenmyer of the Sun-Times. After being called out on a check-swing third strike, Baez was ejected for arguing with the umpire and then got into a dugout altercation with veteran catcher Eli Whiteside. Cubs president Theo Epstein offered this take on the incident: "Players are in the minor leagues to develop physically and fundamentally, and also mentally and emotionally. … It was not a huge deal, but something he can grow from. It sounds like from the reports we got, teammates were right to call him out, and he handled that the right way. Javy’s a great kid who’s the youngest player in Triple-A, and he has some room to continue to grow. And he will."
- Wittenmyer also reports that while the Cubs are indeed talking about selling non-voting shares to minority investors, that money won't be seen by the baseball operations department. Epstein tells Wittenmyer that the money from such dealings would be allocated solely to renovations for Wrigley Field. Wittenmyer reports that team officials feel the renovations could be completed in four years as opposed to the previously believed five years. Chairman Tom Ricketts estimates an additional $30-40MM in revenue based on the renovations, but it's unclear how that money will impact the team's payroll.
The average value of a Major League Baseball franchise is now $811MM, a rise of nine percent from 2013 that can be largely attributed to an increase in TV revenue, according to Forbes Magazine's Mike Ozanian. For the 17th straight year, the Yankees (worth $2.5 billion) top Forbes' annual valuation of baseball's franchises. The Dodgers ($2 billion), Red Sox ($1.5 billion), Cubs ($1.2 billion) and Giants ($1 billion) also hit the ten-figure mark, while the Rays had the lowest value at $485MM. The Mets, Marlins and Astros were the only three franchises who saw their values drop from last year's Forbes rankings.
Here's some more news from around baseball…
- Starlin Castro says he's open to moving from shortstop to accommodate star prospect Javier Baez, CSN Chicago's David Kaplan reports. "If I need to move positions, I'm OK with that," Castro said. "If he is on our team and him being there helps the team win, then I am fine with that. I just want our team to win. That's it." There had been speculation that Baez would see time at second base at Triple-A this season in preparation for a position switch of his own, though Cubs manager Rick Renteria stated that Baez would play short in the minors. Widely considered one of baseball's top prospects, Baez has a .903 OPS in 916 minor league PA and hit even better during the Cubs' Spring Training camp this year.
- The Mets' inability to find a trade partner for Ike Davis last winter means that the club is now in the awkward situation of finding playing time for both Davis and Lucas Duda at first base, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes. Neither left-handed slugger hits southpaws well, so while Josh Satin will start against lefties, Davis and Duda will have to divvy up the starts against right-handers.
- Astros manager Bo Porter said today that the club's top waiver claim priority was keeping them from finalizing the rotation, and general manager Jeff Luhnow went into more detail with reporters (including Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle) about his team's examination of the waiver wire. "I will tell you that these days we’re meeting every day at least once…probably twice, and we get input from the staff and do our research," Luhnow said. “This is the time of year with clubs setting their 25-man roster in the next couple days that every other guy that’s out of options comes available, and we’re going to look at it seriously because it’s a way that we can fill the team.”
- The Rangers, Athletics, Rockies, Angels and Diamondbacks all made notable moves this offseason that could prove to be mistakes within a few seasons or even in 2014, opines ESPN's Jim Bowden (Insider subscription required). Colorado might've broken even in Bowden's eyes, though, since the Rockies are also on the good end of one of those "backfire" transactions.
- When a number of scouts, managers and other baseball personnel were asked “Were there any young players you watched and said, ‘this guy has a chance to be a star?’” by Peter Gammons, the name most often cited was Carlos Correa. The Astros shortstop headlines the top 10 list, though Cubs fans will be excited to know that Kris Bryant, Baez and Albert Almora all cracked the top seven.
Cubs senior vice president of player development and scouting Jason McLeod was once an assistant GM for the Padres, and he tells FanGraphs' David Laurila that the Friars would not have taken Javier Baez if he had fallen one pick to them in the 2011 draft. "The Cubs beat a lot of teams on Javy. They certainly beat the Padres," McLeod says. "I have to admit we weren’t set up to take him with our pick. Thankfully, the Cubs were smart and I don’t have to wear that one too bad." Baez, of course, is now among the best prospects in baseball, while the player the Padres took instead, second baseman Cory Spangenberg, struggled somewhat last year in Double-A — he hit .289, but struck out three times as often as he walked and hit for very little power. Here are more notes from the National League.
- The market for Cuban free agent infielder Aledmys Diaz will likely be set by the Dodgers' signings of Alexander Guerrero (four years, $28MM) and Erisbel Arruebarrena (five years, $25MM), Scout.com's Kiley McDaniel writes. The market for Cuban players is different from the markets for other player types, McDaniel argues, so it makes sense to compare Diaz to other Cuban players to determine his value. Diaz should hit well for average, and should be a decent defender at second base. Teams believe Diaz will likely receive a contract worth about $5MM-$7MM per season for five or six seasons, although the contracts of Cuban free agents can be difficult to predict.
- The Mets appear set to head into the season with Ruben Tejada as their shortstop, writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post. They don't appear likely to add Stephen Drew, and they haven't had serious trade talks recently with the Mariners (who have Nick Franklin and Brad Miller) or Diamondbacks (who have Didi Gregorius and Chris Owings). The Mariners and Diamondbacks are asking for a lot in return, Sherman says, since it's tough to find a good shortstop, and all four players have options.
It was on this day in 1887 that Grover Cleveland Alexander was born in Elba, Nebraska. "Old Pete" spent the first eight years of his career with the Phillies and the last 12 with the Cubs and Cardinals, but Alexander was one of baseball's dominant arms no matter where he pitched, amassing 373 wins (the third-most in history) and a 2.56 ERA over his epic career. Alexander helped the Cards to their first World Series title in 1926 by recording two complete game victories during the Series and also earned a save for his 2 1/3 hitless innings to close out Game 7.
Here's the latest from the NL Central…
- The Cardinals didn't trade from their surplus of pitching depth over the offseason, a decision that looks wise to MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince given the uncertainly over Jaime Garcia's shoulder problems. Several of the Cards' young arms are still new to the majors and the club doesn't want to make moves until they know what they have.
- Though Scott Rolen hasn't officially retired and is "simply inactive at the moment," he tells MLB.com's Paul Hagen that he is enjoying his time with his family. The long-time Reds and Cardinals third baseman recently made an appearance at the Phillies' Spring Training camp, and Cincinnati is interested in hiring Rolen as a guest instructor.
- Javier Baez could be the top prospect most likely to switch positions, MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo opines. The Cubs shortstop is still a work in progress in the field but his bat could be Major League-ready as soon as this season. Since the Cubs already have Starlin Castro at short, Mayo suggests that Baez could play third and Kris Bryant (another top Chicago youngster) could shift to the outfield.
- ESPN Chicago's Jesse Rogers, meanwhile, thinks Baez could possibly end up at second base. Rogers discusses Baez, Jeff Samardzija trade rumors and several other Cubs topics as part of a reader chat.
- Speaking of Samardzija, we can't count him amongst our readership as the Cubs right-hander tells CSNChicago.com's Patrick Mooney that he's avoiding MLB Trade Rumors and Twitter in order to shut out the trade speculation and focus on the upcoming season. “You concentrate on doing your job," Samardzija said. "You can make as many excuses for yourself as you want. But when it’s all said and done, that doesn’t fly. Your numbers are your numbers. Your record is your record.”
The Mets still have a big hole at shortstop, and Stephen Drew is the perfect player to fill it, ESPN's Jim Bowden writes, suggesting the Mets should offer a deal in the two-year, $22MM range. Bowden argues Drew will help create a "winning environment" that will aid the Mets' core of young pitching. And with the qualifying offer dragging down Drew's market, the Mets are likely to get a deal that they might not get next offseason, when J.J. Hardy, Jed Lowrie and Asdrubal Cabrera will be available. Here are more notes from the National League.
- Cubs prospect Javier Baez denies rumors that he's looking for a new agent, reports Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune. Baez became a client of KPS Sports in September. "I don't know how this got started. I'm not sure. But that's a lie," Baez says. "I'm still with my (agency). They're doing a great job."
- The Reds would like to have former star third baseman Scott Rolen back as a guest instructor, Cincinnati.com's John Fay writes. Manager Bryan Price notes that Rolen would likely return in a player-development capacity, and the main obstacle right now is Rolen's commitment to his family.
MLB.com's Mark Sheldon spoke with Reds outfielder Donald Lutz, the first German-developed Major League player. Lutz was called up to the majors in late April, hitting .241/.254/.310 in 59 plate appearances while serving mostly as a bench bat. His lone home run during that time, however, was likely seen by thousands of Germans when a clip of it was broadcast during Lutz's appearance this winter on a late night German talk show. "It was the first time something about baseball was streamed out nationwide to the most viewers," the outfielder said. Sheldon says Lutz could position himself for another callup with a strong Spring Training. Here's more from the NL Central:
- Look for the Reds to be more active on the basepaths under manager Bryan Price, ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick writes. Speedster Billy Hamilton should factor heavily into the new strategy, but the Reds also believe 6-3, 220-pound third baseman Todd Frazier could be good for 10 to 15 steals.
- Crasnick tweets that industry sources say Cubs infielder Javier Baez, ranked the No. 5 prospect in the game by Baseball America, may be looking for a new agent. The infielder changed agents as recently as last year, Crasnick notes. MLBTR's agency database shows Baez is currently represented by KPS Sports.
- Cubs pitcher Arodys Vizcaino hit 98 on the radar gun during his first live batting practice session this Spring Training, Carrie Muskat of MLB.com reports. Vizcaino had Tommy John surgery in 2012 and did not pitch at all in 2013, but has ranked as high as No. 40 on Baseball America's top 100 prospects list in the past.
The Cardinals' Kolten Wong sits atop the list of baseball's 10 best second base prospects compiled by Jonathan Mayo and Jim Callis of MLB.com. As Mayo points out, St. Louis' trade of David Freese allows Matt Carpenter to move to third base, opening second for the highly touted University of Hawaii product. Rougned Odor, Mookie Betts, Arismendy Alcantara, Devon Travis, Jonathan Schoop, Taylor Lindsey, Eddie Rosario, Micah Johnson and Wilmer Flores round out the free list, which also includes scouting reports on each prospect. Here's more out of the NL Central…
- Fangraphs' Mike Petriello writes that the Brewers' signing of Mark Reynolds is more beneficial to them than it would be another club due to Milwaukee's historically bad group of first basemen in 2013. If Reynolds can even play at replacement level, he'd provide a four-win improvement, and with Miller Park being among the four best parks in the game for right-handed power, Reynolds could be above replacement level. While it could be a nice move, Petriello continues, Reynolds serving as the offseason's biggest move isn't a defensible outcome. Milwaukee has yet to sign a big league free agent, but they also haven't pulled the trigger on a rebuild, making their offseason puzzling, he concludes.
- Top Cubs prospect Javier Baez will begin the season playing shortstop at Triple-A, but he could also receive some work at second base to accelerate his path to the Majors, writes Carrie Muskat of MLB.com in a wrap-up piece from this week's Cubs Convention. Director of scouting and player development Jason McLeod tells Muskat that the goal is for Baez to play short for as long as he can, but McLeod concedes that the 21-year-old has a lot of work to do on defense.
- Muskat also writes that McLeod and president Theo Epstein have some history with righty Justin Grimm, who was acquired in the July haul for Matt Garza. McLeod drafted Grimm when he and Epstein were with the Red Sox, but Grimm elected to honor his commitment to Georgia. When McLeod and Epstein were scouting one of his college games, Epstein walked down 15 rows to jokingly tell McLeod, "You're fired" after seeing Grimm unload an array of 97 mph fastballs.
- McLeod told Muskat that the team has scouted Masahiro Tanaka "extensively" over the past few years and that the evaluation process is complete. "…we'll find out in the next week," McLeod said regarding the former Rakuten ace.