- Blue Jays To Name Mark Shapiro As Team President
- Mets Acquire Addison Reed From Diamondbacks
- Mets Claim Marc Rzepczynski On Revocable Waivers, In Talks With Padres
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- Denard Span To Undergo Season-Ending Hip Surgery
- Mariners Fire GM Jack Zduriencik
- MLB Wins Collusion Case Versus Barry Bonds
- Cubs Acquire Fernando Rodney, Designate Brian Schlitter
- Chris Perez Retires
- Hanley Ramirez To Play First Base For Red Sox In 2016
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Jed Lowrie Rumors
Here are the day’s minor moves from around the league…
- The Marlins announced that they’ve outrighted Nick Masset to Triple-A New Orleans. The 33-year-old right-hander was designated for assignment over the weekend in order to clear a spot on the roster for Henderson Alvarez‘s activation from the 15-day disabled list. Masset has actually delivered strong results in 9 2/3 innings for the Marlins — a 1.86 ERA with six strikeouts against one walk. However, he’s also seen his fastball velocity drop by more than a mile per hour this season, as it’s now averaging 91.5 mph. Still, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Masset eventually earn another crack at the Marlins’ big league roster, assuming he accepts the outright assignment.
- The Astros have placed right-hander Sam Deduno on the 15-day DL and transferred Jed Lowrie to the 60-day DL in order to clear space for right-hander Lance McCullers, Jr. on both the 25-man and 40-man rosters, the club announced. McCullers’ contact has officially been selected from Triple-A, and he will start tonight’s game against the A’s. Houston selected McCullers with the 41st pick in the 2012 draft — 40 picks after they picked Carlos Correa with the No. 1 overall selection.
- Left-hander Omar Duran signed a minor league deal to return to the Athletics organization, according to the MLB.com transactions page. Duran spent his entire career in Oakland’s minor league ranks prior to the 2015 season but signed with Detroit this past winter. After being released, Duran signed on and was assigned to Class-A Advanced Stockton, where he made his debut last night. The 25-year-old has a career 3.28 ERA with 12.1 K/9 and 5.7 BB/9 through 288 minor league innings, but he’s thrown just 22 2/3 innings at Double-A and has not advanced beyond that level.
7:50pm: Via the Houston Chronicle’s Evan Drellich, GM Jeff Luhnow says that the specific injury to Lowrie is a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his left thumb (Twitter link). That’s not to be confused with the elbow ligament of the same name which is the cause for Tommy John surgery. A torn UCL in the thumb is the same injury for which Dustin Pedroia underwent surgery in the 2013-14 offseason.
7:25pm: Astros shortstop Jed Lowrie will be out until after the All-Star break following surgery to repair a torn ligament in his right thumb, the team announced tonight.
Jonathan Villar has been recalled from Triple-A to take Lowrie’s spot on the 25-man roster, but the loss of Lowrie is a significant one for an Astros team that is off to a hot start and currently sits atop the AL West. Fresh off inking a three-year, $23MM contract (plus a club option) to return to Houston this offseason, Lowrie was hitting an exceptional .300/.432/.567 with four home runs. While that level of production was of course not sustainable, Lowrie was set to be relied upon as a key contributor near the top of or in the middle of the Astros’ lineup.
Villar is the player that Lowrie was signed to replace, after his 2014 shot to cement himself as Houston’s everyday shortstop fell short. Villar’s blistering speed wasn’t enough to to outweigh his lack of on-base skills, as the switch-hitter batted just .209/.267/.354 in 289 plate appearances last year.
The long-term injury to Lowrie will naturally lead to speculation among Astros fans and those throughout the league as to whether or not top prospect Carlos Correa is an option to replace him. The 20-year-old is off to a blistering start at Double-A Corpus Christi, hitting .382/.440/.735 with four homers through Monday. A consensus Top 5 prospect and the No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 draft, Correa is one of the most promising Minor Leaguers in the game. However, he’s also played fewer than 20 games above Class-A Advanced, so promoting him at this juncture or in the near future would be a highly aggressive move and seems unlikely.
The Rangers and pitcher Matt Harrison seemingly received positive news yesterday, as the righty, as Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram tweets that an X-ray of Harrison’s back came back clean. He will undergo a CT scan on Wednesday in hopes of being cleared to throw in January.
More from the American League:
The Astros announced that they have signed infielder Jed Lowrie to a three-year contract that runs through the 2018 season. Lowrie’s contract reportedly guarantee him $23MM: $8MM in 2015, $7.5MM in 2016 and $6.5MM in 2017 with a $6MM club option ($1MM buyout) for 2018. The team will announce a corresponding roster move on Tuesday.
The 30-year-old Lowrie, a client of CAA Sports, will serve as Houston’s shortstop in the early stages of the contract — presumably until top prospect Carlos Correa is ready to take over the position. At that point, Lowrie could see time at third base (though the Astros also have prospects Colin Moran and Rio Ruiz rising through the system), serve as a super utility player, or potentially have appeal to other clubs in a trade.
In the meantime, the addition of Lowrie isn’t particularly good news for incumbent shortstops Jonathan Villar and Marwin Gonzalez. Villar opened the season as the team’s starting shortstop, and while he possesses game-changing speed, he didn’t hit or get on base enough to take full advantage of that excellent tool. Gonzalez is the better defender of the two internal options, so he is seemingly the more likely of the two to fill a reserve capacity for Houston now that Lowrie is on board.
With this contract, Lowrie will return to the organization with which he enjoyed a solid but injury-shortened 2012 season. After years of promise in the Red Sox organization, Houston acquired Lowrie (along with Kyle Weiland) in exchange for Mark Melancon three years ago (almost to the day). Lowrie’s original stint with the Astros lasted for just one season, as he and Fernando Rodriguez were flipped to the A’s for Chris Carter, Brad Peacock and Max Stassi the following offseason.
Lowrie enjoyed an excellent 2013 season with the A’s in which he batted .290/.344/.446 with 15 homers and a career-best 45 doubles. His bat slipped in 2014, however, as he batted just .249/.321/.355. While defensive metrics suggested that he improved at shortstop in 2014, defense has never been Lowrie’s calling card, and many clubs expressed trepidation over deploying him at short. He drew interest from clubs as a second baseman and a third baseman, but one would imagine that Houston’s promise to give him some time at shortstop, along with the fact that Lowrie resides in Houston in the offseason, gave the Astros a leg up over their competition.
With Lowrie now off the free agent market, Asdrubal Cabrera is likely the best remaining infielder available to teams with a free agent need. However, while clubs had their doubts about Lowrie’s defense, those doubts seem to be even more pronounced in Cabrera’s case.
As for the Astros, this marks the third significant free agent signing for the club in the past week, as they’ve also inked right-handed relievers Pat Neshek and Luke Gregerson, the latter of whom seems likely to be a closer for new manager A.J. Hinch. Houston could still address its starting rotation on the open market, and while they haven’t given up a draft pick with any of these signings, they showed a willingness to do so with a pursuit of David Robertson.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Before dealing Matt Kemp to one division rival, they were in deep talks with another about a deal, per Bob Nightengale of USA Today (via Twitter). The Diamondbacks rejected L.A.’s request for center fielder A.J. Pollock but was willing to ship top pitching prospect Archie Bradley to add Kemp. Of course, we do not know the details of those discussions, including especially the amount of Kemp’s salary that would have been covered.
Here’s the latest from the National League West:
- The Padres are unlikely as things stand to reach agreement with Kwang-hyun Kim before today’s deadline, SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo tweets. With a 2pm PST expiration, we could learn more on that situation soon.
- The Giants intend to add a starter sooner rather than later and do not intend to participate in a drawn-out bidding process, AGM Bobby Evans told reporters including John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle (Twitter link).
- In addition to checking in with Asdrubal Cabrera, the Giants have inquired with Jed Lowrie about his interest in spending time at second or third, also per Evans. (Via Shea, on Twitter.) Lowrie apparently indicated that would be a possibility. The team could theoretically add a player at second and move Joe Panik to third, Evans also told the scribes, per MLB.com’s Chris Haft (via Twitter).
- The Dodgers will be open to moving shortstop Erisbel Arruebarrena after the Jimmy Rollins deal is finalized, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets. The 24-year-old is owed $16MM over the next four years.
Needless to say, it was a frenetic end to the Winter Meetings. Over the course of the morning, several forward-looking reports emerged. We’ll round those up here:
- The Giants are focused on free agent starter James Shields, according to Alex Pavlovic of the Mercury News (via Twitter). San Francisco is alive on both Shields and Ervin Santana, John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle adds on Twitter. The club met with Shields in San Diego, as Chris Cotillo of SB Nation reported yesterday (Twitter link).
- The Twins are still trying to land Santana, tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, who adds that the Giants, Royals, and Yankees have also expressed interest in the free agent righty.
- The Marlins are still looking hard at the free agent and trade market for a first baseman, Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald reports on Twitter. A deal could come at any time, Spencer adds.
- Attempts by the Marlins to deal for Justin Morneau of the Rockies have fallen apart, tweets MLB.com’s Tom Singer. He hears that Miami could rekindle talks with the Pirates regarding a Pedro Alvarez-for-Nathan Eovaldi swap.
- Communications between the Marlins and Rockies regarding Morneau will continue, MLB.com’s Thomas Harding reports on Twitter, though Harding’s source says he is not sure if the potential match “has legs.”
- The Dodgers did not make their moves as a prelude to dealing away Zack Greinke or dealing for Cole Hamels, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports on Twitter. Los Angeles has already done its heavy lifting with yesterday’s series of moves, says Sherman.
- After trading away second baseman Howie Kendrick, the Angels are “open to opportunities” for additions at the position, GM Jerry Dipoto tells Mike DiGiovanna of MLB.com (Twitter link). The Halos are not interested in free agents Jed Lowrie and Stephen Drew, per Dipoto. Of course, the team just added Josh Rutledge to join in-house option Grant Green in the current mix.
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The Nationals and Mariners have discussed Ian Desmond on several occasions but talks between the two teams have yet to really gain traction, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports (via Twitter). Washington likes Brad Miller, so conceivably the young shortstop could be part of a larger package the M’s would send back to D.C. Here’s some more about the Nationals…
- Jordan Zimmermann has been drawn more trade attention than Desmond this week, according to FOX Sports’ Jon Paul Morosi.
- The Nats are actively discussing Ross Detwiler and Tyler Clippard with multiple teams, Rosenthal tweets.
- The Nationals still want a second base upgrade and they’re talking with lots of teams about Clippard and Jerry Blevins, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post (via Twitter).
- The Nationals have inquired on Rays second baseman Ben Zobrist, but it appears like a long shot to pry him away, according James Wagner of the Washington Post.
- Jed Lowrie would appear to be a fit for the Nationals but there doesn’t appear to be anything happening on that front, Wagner writes.
- General Manager Mike Rizzo has said throughout the winter that Anthony Rendon could slide to second base should they acquire a third baseman. While some rolled their eyes at the notion of moving Rendon away from his natural position, people around the Nationals tell Wagner that they are indeed looking at third baseman and if there is a good one to be had, Rendon would be shifted to second.
- The sense from teams that asked the Nationals about Clippard is that Washington wants better than a low-tier prospect and trading him wouldn’t be simply to dump his $9MM salary, according to Wagner.
Face-to-face communication is downright passé at the winter meetings with most deals being discussed via text or email rather than in person. Meanwhile, executives and agents are keeping up with every rumor and rumbling right here on MLBTradeRumors. “I definitely wasn’t picturing being a resource for any kind of executive or agent when I started it in 2005,” MLBTradeRumors.com founder Tim Dierkes said to Joe Lemire of Medium.com. “The whole idea that we’ve affected how deals are made — that’s almost scary to me.” More from around baseball..
- Brian McTaggart of MLB.com (via Twitter) hears that Jed Lowrie wants a three-year deal. The Mets have an eye on Lowrie and the Marlins and Giants are said to be considering him as well.
- Free agent left-hander Johan Santana is preparing to pitch in January for the Navegantes del Magallanes, his agent Edward Greenberg tells Ken Davidoff of Newsday (via Twitter).
- Yasmany Tomas is no longer available, but Cuban prospects remain a popular topic of discussion at the winter meetings, writes Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com. Switch-hitting middle infielder Yoan Moncada, 19, and right-handed pitcher Yoan Lopez, 21, are among the players generating the most buzz in international circles this week. Both are expected to sign with a team sometime next year.
We’ve already published one set of NL East Notes today, but there’s no shortage of news coming out of the Winter Meetings. Here’s the latest from around the division…
- The Giants would only be interested in taking on Braves outfielder Justin Upton and his substantial salary if signing Jon Lester was no longer an option, John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle tweets. Since the Giants have been told they’re out of the hunt for Lester, it’s fair to speculate that they could now turn their attention to Upton.
- A rumored trade that would’ve sent Upton and Chris Johnson from the Braves to the Giants is about a week old and “not happening,” a source tells CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman.
- Nationals GM Mike Rizzo spoke to reporters (including Dan Kolko of MASNsports.com) about a number of topics, such as how teams are showing increased interest in Washington’s relief corps over the last day. “When David Robertson signed, our relief pitchers came more into focus with other clubs,” Rizzo said. “We got a lot of traffic on those guys.” There has been a particularly large amount of interest in Tyler Clippard.
- Rizzo met with Ian Desmond‘s agents and expects to meet with Jordan Zimmermann‘s agents before the Winter Meetings are over. It was reported earlier this week that the Nats would explore an extension with Zimmermann, and Rizzo certainly expressed his eagerness to talk to the right-hander. “Zim’s part of the furniture here. He’s drafted, signed, developed and starred with the same organization. We feel he’s one of our own, and we’re certainly eager to discuss things with him,” Rizzo said. The GM isn’t sure, however, what Zimmermann’s asking price will be in this round of negotiations.
- The Marlins have interest in Dodgers second baseman Dee Gordon, MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro reports (Twitter link). It was reported earlier today that L.A. was open to offers for Gordon.
- The Mets aren’t close to dealing a starter, but if they do swing a trade, the Rangers and Royals are both “viable landing spots,” ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin tweets. Jon Niese would command a larger return than Dillon Gee, though Rubin says the Mets would prefer to trade Gee since they feel Niese has more upside and can better help the club contend in 2015. They would trade Niese for a good enough offer, however (Twitter links).
- The Rangers, Royals and Giants are Gee’s most serious suitors, the New York Post’s Joel Sherman writes (via Twitter).
- In regards to the Mets‘ shortstop search, MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo hears that the team is “far more” interested in Jed Lowrie or Stephen Drew than they are with Asdrubal Cabrera.
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With Pablo Sandoval off the board, attention on the third base market has shifted to Chase Headley. But Jed Lowrie also could be an option at the hot corner (as well as at short and second). He took a step backward last year in the power department, but has a lengthy track record of legitimate pop. Better still, the 30-year-old managed to stay on the field after some injury issues in his past.
Here’s the latest on the infield market:
- Joel Sherman of the New York Post (on Twitter) hears that Headley will make his decision by the end of the Winter Meetings. There are three or four teams bidding on him right now, including the Giants and Yankees.
- It’s not just the starting pitchers that are waiting for Jon Lester to sign, tweets Sherman. Headley is also up in the air because the Giants won’t know how much they can afford to spend until they know whether they can sign Lester.
- The Giants will consider Lowrie at third if they can’t land Headley, ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick reports (Twitter links). As for Headley, four years at a $11MM to $12MM AAV is probably too rich for San Francisco, Crasnick adds.
- Another National League squad, the Marlins, could also have interest in Lowrie as an option at a position other than shortstop, per another Crasnick tweet. Miami is “exploring” the market at those positions. Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill and GM Dan Jennings told me last month at the GM Meetings that the team feels comfortable with its internal options at the keystone but would consider sensible upgrades.
- The Astros have at least “kicked the tires” on Headley as an option at third base, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe tweets.
- Lowrie is indeed willing to play elsewhere in the infield, Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle reports. That face makes him a solid fit for the Astros, where he could keep the seat warm for Carlos Correa at short before eventually sliding to third, or possibly move to hot corner right away while providing some insurance up the middle.
- The Astros have been pursuing Lowrie, Brian McTaggart of MLB.com reports on Twitter. Houston dealt Lowrie to the Athletics before the 2013 season. For Houston, Lowrie could conceivably fill in at short, third, or both over the life of a hypothetical deal. I noted the Astros as a possible landing spot in Lowrie’s free agent profile, in which I also predicted he could score a three-year deal at a $10MM AAV.