Jeff Hoffman Rumors

AL East Notes: Lester, Blue Jays, Hoffman, Yankees

ESPN’s Buster Olney thinks that extension talks between the Red Sox and Jon Lester are “all but over” and the left-hander will hit free agency, he said Wednesday on the WEEI radio. Olney states that if the Sox had approached Lester and offered something like $100MM over five years in Spring Training, a deal may have been reached, but that didn’t happen. The only way for a long-term deal to be reached now, in Olney’s opinion, may be to go the route the Phillies went to extend Cole Hamels in 2012 — offer top-of-the-market value ($140-150MM) on a final midseason offer.

Here’s more on Lester and the AL East…

  • Tim Britton of the Providence Journal spoke with Red Sox skipper John Farrell, who said that Lester has been a model example for how to handle a contract year. Lester has kept his contract discussions private and hasn’t created any sort of distraction or tension in the clubhouse, choosing instead to focus on the season at hand, according to Farrell.
  • Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos and manager John Gibbons are noncommittal when asked what areas the Jays might seek to upgrade via trade this summer, writes Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca. Anthopoulos noted that it would be very difficult for a club to acquire anyone from the Jays’ current 25-man roster unless they were acquiring an upgrade at that same position, and he also discussed Brett Lawrie‘s role with the team when he returns from the DL.
  • In the video at the top of the previous link, Anthopoulos discussed the signings of top picks Jeff Hoffman and Max Pentecost. Anthopoulos touched on the team’s previous inability to sign first-rounders Tyler Beede and Phil Bickford, but noted that he wouldn’t draft a player he didn’t think he could sign. He added that Hoffman will head to Florida to continue his rehab from Tommy John, while Pentecost will eventually head to short-season Class A Vancouver (once he gets a passport). Anthopoulos also said that the team agreed to the full-slot value with Hoffman because they felt the “discount” on signing him was already built in to the fact that he fell to the No. 9 pick. He and his staff thought Hoffman had a chance to go in the Top 3 or even Top 2 picks before tearing his UCL.
  • The Yankees have garnered a lot of attention with their international spending spree today, and Kiley McDaniel of Scout.com tweets that the team could spend as much as $30MM on international free agents, once the 100 percent overage tax is accounted for. That figure assumes that the team eventually agrees to terms with Colombian outfielder Bryan Emery, as many expect them to.

Blue Jays Sign First-Rounders Hoffman, Pentecost

The Blue Jays have signed first-round choices Jeff Hoffman (9th overall) and Max Pentecost (11th overall), the club announced via press release. Both players will receive at-slot bonuses, as reported by Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (via Twitter) and Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca (via Twitter), meaning that Hoffman will take home $3,080,800 while Pentecost will earn $2,888,300.

As the draft approached, Hoffman was very much in the mix with the three pitchers that ultimately went with the first three choices. Though a UCL tear put a dent in his value, he did not fall far. Even after undergoing Tommy John surgery, the righty out of Eastern Carolina was ranked the 13th available prospect by MLB.com’s Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo. He features a mid-90s heater, big curve, and occasionally plus change.

Pentecost, meanwhile, came in at 19th on the MLB.com list. He was the MVP of the prestigious Cape Cod League, and is described by MLB.com as “a rare catcher who could have average or better tools across the board.” Though Pentecost will need to add some polish behind the dish, the expectation is that he will be able to man the position as a professional.

With its top two picks under contract, Toronto can focus its attention on its remaining unsigned picks. Seventh-rounder Zack Zehner, a college senior, is the only Jays draftee that remains unsigned from the first ten rounds. Even after going $407K over slot to sign fifth-rounder Lane Thomas, the Jays remain $71.4K under the club’s total allocation.


Draft Links: Padres, Ryan, Phillies, Jays

The 2014 amateur draft is only three days away, so here’s the first batch of what will surely be a ton of draft-related items this week…

  • The Padres won’t draft Jeff Hoffman or Erick Fedde with the 13th overall pick, sources tell Jeff Sanders of the San Diego Union-Tribune.  Both college right-handers recently underwent Tommy John surgery and though the team “briefly kicked the idea around” of taking one of the highly-touted pitchers in hopes of a full recovery, the risk seemed too high at that point in the first round.  “We want to take someone who is healthy. There are too many good options on the board,” assistant GM Chad MacDonald said.
  • The Twins are likely to again focus on pitching in this draft, general manager Terry Ryan tells Jim Crikket of the Knuckleballs blog.  “We’ll draft a lot of pitching just because of the attrition. We need to make sure we have numbers and competition,” Ryan said.  “Actually the depth and some of the talent in our organization is starting to lean toward pitching….But we won’t have enough, so we’ll take a bunch more.”  This doesn’t necessarily mean that Minnesota will draft a pitcher with the fifth overall pick, as Ryan says the team is just focused on drafting the best possible player.  I’d recommend reading the entire interview, as Ryan also touches on such topics as his health and the Twins’ performance this season.
  • The Phillies could be altering their draft strategy of taking good athletes with high ceilings by instead opting for more proven players who are closer to making the majors, CSNPhilly.com’s Jim Salisbury writes as part of an interview with Phillies scouting director Marti Wolever.
  • Recent comments from Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos hint that his team could also be taking a somewhat more cautious approach to their draft process, Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi reports.  “I’d say a big part of refining our process is maybe we’re starting to examine the level of risk we’re willing to take….It doesn’t mean we’ll be risk-averse, but maybe not take the same level of risk,” Anthopoulos told Sportsnet Magazine.  “We’re just trying to balance it out a little bit more as we’re going through it. That’s not to say we’re not looking for talent, upside, all that kind of stuff. We’re trying to balance it.”


Quick Hits: Draft, Coffey, Hill, Bradley, Rockies, Gomes

Baseball America has released its list of the top 100 amateur prospects for this year’s draft. Interestingly, both Jeff Hoffman and Erick Fedde are still listed in the top ten, despite the fact that the pair of collegiate righties will enter the draft fresh off of Tommy John surgery. Here are some notes from around the game:

  • Free agent reliever Todd Coffey impressed in a workout today, throwing his fastball consistently in the low-90s, reports Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports (Twitter links). He could sign by the weekend, according to Passan. Twelve to fifteen clubs were represented at the showcase today, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish lists some of the clubs in attendance. From the American League, the TigersMarinersAstrosAthletics, and Orioles sent scouts, while the Braves and Diamondbacks were among the NL clubs on hand.
  • Reliever Rich Hill of the Red Sox has an opt-out date from his minor league deal tomorrow, tweets Cotillo. The nine-year MLB veteran has been strong at Triple-A, throwing to a 2.84 ERA through 19 innings pitched with 10.4 K/9 against 4.7 BB/9.
  • Diamondbacks top prospect Archie Bradley is set to begin throwing and move towards a return to the rubber, reports Jack Magruder of FOX Sports Arizona (via Twitter). GM Kevin Towers said that the club does not have any further medical tests planned at present for the young hurler. Given his current situation, it seems that the club will exercise plenty of caution in promoting the 21-year-old.
  • With the Rockies off to a hot start, Mark Kiszla of the Denver Post opines that the club should act decisively to seize the momentum by exploring a trade for Cubs pitcher Jeff Samardzija. While the price will surely be steep, Kiszla sas that the team should be willing to deal either of the team’s two prized young prospect arms — Jonathan Gray and Eddie Butler — to make a deal.
  • The Blue Jays never saw in Yan Gomes the potential that has been unleashed since he was dealt to the Indians, writes Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca. In some part, says Davidi, that could be due to the fact that Gomes was buried in the minor league depth charts, such that he never caught more than 58 games in a single season. “Ultimately you wonder if we didn’t have other prospects that were so talented, if Yan had played more, would the development path have changed, would we have had a better feel for him?” Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos said. “We were finding places for him to play, but he was never the everyday catcher because there was always someone else who was there.” Gomes, of course, has excelled (and been rewarded with an extension) in Cleveland after coming over with Mike Aviles in exchange for reliever Esmil Rogers“We always liked Yan,” said Anthopoulos. “Clearly he’s become a better player sooner than we would have expected. That’s not a slight against him, that’s a full credit to him.”

Potential Top 5 Pick Jeff Hoffman To Undergo Tommy John Surgery

2:14pm: Perfect Game’s Frankie Piliere has more details on the situation, noting that Hoffman was recently shut down due to what was thought to be swelling in his elbow but turned out to be a small tear. A meeting with Dr. James Andrews led to the recommendation for Tommy John, which will happen next week.

Piliere reports that many teams were aware of this situation prior to today’s news, and there are even clubs with picks in the No. 5-10 range that are still considering Hoffman. One of the teams in the range to which Piliere refers — the Twins, who pick fifth — will not consider Hoffman in the first round, reports 1500 ESPN’s Darren Wolfson (via Twitter)

1:44pm: East Carolina University right-hander Jeff Hoffman — a projected Top 5 pick in this year’s amateur draft — will miss the remainder of the season with an arm injury, reports Kendall Rogers of PerfectGame.org (via Twitter). ESPN’s Keith Law adds that the news is even worse than that, as Hoffman will require Tommy John surgery (Twitter link).

Scouting reports indicate that Hoffman is an excellent athlete with a fastball that reaches 97 mph and a plus curveball when he’s at his best. The 6’4″, 192-pound right-hander has posted a 2.94 ERA in 67 1/3 innings this season, striking out 72 batters against 20 walks and holding opponents to a .216 batting average.

Hoffman’s injury doesn’t necessarily preclude him from being selected in the first or second round of the draft. In 2012, right-hander Lucas Giolito was considered a potential No. 1 overall pick before he sprained his UCL, causing him to drop to the Nationals with the 16th pick. Last season, injury concerns over former projected Top 5 pick Sean Manaea caused him to fall to the Royals with the No. 34 pick. Clubs with extra draft picks and/or large draft pools could take a chance on Hoffman, conceding the year of development time and a slower start to his career in order to land a Top 5 talent far later than originally anticipated.