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Former Astros, Cardinal and Athletics right-hander Joaquin Andujar passed away on Tuesday at the age of 62 due to complications stemming from a lengthy battle with diabetes. The four-time All-Star was known as a passionate player that never shied away from showing his emotion on the field. Andjuar twice won 20 or more games in a season and was an integral piece of the Cardinals’ 1982 World Series championship, posting a 2.47 ERA in 265 2/3 innings before going on to allow just four earned runs in 20 postseason innings. Pedro Martinez spoke about how Andujar influenced not only him but an entire generation of Dominican baseball players Tuesday on the MLB Network (video link). Meanwhile, MLB.com’s Joey Nowak paid tribute to Andjuar in a lengthy piece that offers quotes from former teammates, managers and executives who knew Andujar well. We at MLBTR extend our condolences to the friends and family of Andujar as well as all who were impacted by his career.
A few more notes from around the game…
- ESPN’s Keith Law shares some scouting thoughts from the past week, most notably offering his opinion on Rockies top prospect Jeff Hoffman — the key piece in July’s Troy Tulowitzki blockbuster (ESPN Insider required). Law notes that Hoffman showed a minimal-effort delivery while sitting in the mid-90s and touching 97 mph five times during a five-inning start. However, the fastball has little movement, making it too easy to square up, and Hoffman showed a poor feel for his changeup on the day in question. From a big-picture point of view, Law feels that Hoffman has a lot in common with Jon Gray in that he’s a power arm with great stuff that has yet to show up in his results. Law also discusses Cubs shortstop prospect Gleyber Torres and White Sox righty Spencer Adams, among others.
- Andy Martino of the New York Daily News writes that while Matt Harvey has come under considerable fire due to the recent drama surrounding his innings limit, he’s in no way a quitter or phony. Rather, Harvey is a 26-year-old that it trying to balance his long-term health with his desire to win a championship with the Mets while hearing varying opinions and advice from doctors, his agent, Mets executives, his teammates and fans. He’s in an unenviable position, Martino points out before opining that no one in the situation need be portrayed as a “hero” or as a “villain.”
- There are few open jobs on the Rays roster heading into the 2015-16 offseason, writes Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, with Asdrubal Cabrera and John Jaso being the club’s primary free agents. That will leave some uncertainty at shortstop, and there’s already uncertainty at catcher, Topkin notes. One way the Rays could plug either hole will be to trade from their rotation depth, and Topkin feels that it’s “likely” the front office will do just that this winter. The Rays have Chris Archer, Jake Odorizzi, Drew Smyly, Nate Karns, Matt Moore, Erasmo Ramirez, top prospect Blake Snell and, eventually, Alex Cobb as rotation options, giving them an enviable surplus of serviceable arms.
In a pair of excellent columns, Arden Zwelling of Sportsnet and Jonah Keri of Grantland offer behind-the-scenes looks at the chaotic week of Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos leading up to the trade deadline. Each spoke directly to Anthopoulos, and while Keri’s piece focuses on blockbuster deals for David Price and Troy Tulowitzki, Zwelling’s looks at each day of Anthopoulos’ week leading up to the deadline (including those trades and other discussions) — painting a vivid picture of the life of a general manager during one of the most chaotic times of the year.
Some highlights from each piece, although I’d highly recommend reading each in its entirety…
- Both Zwelling and Keri note that talks between the Blue Jays and Rockies date back to the offseason, but the initial concept of Jose Reyes and pitching prospects for Tulowitzki surfaced in late May. Anthopoulos, Zwelling writes, had been unwilling to part with Jeff Hoffman until the day that Tulowitzki was traded. When Hoffman’s name was put on the table, talks with Rockies GM Jeff Bridich accelerated quickly. Zwelling’s piece also provides a glimpse into the difficult task of Anthopoulos informing Reyes that he’d been traded.
- Meanwhile, Anthopoulos told Keri that the decision to add Tulowitzki did have its detractors within the Toronto front office. “They brought up the length of his contract, the dollars on his contract, the players we’d have to give up,” said Anthopoulos. However, his take on the situation varied. “Players like that don’t become available,” said the Toronto GM. “They sign 10-year contracts and become the face of a franchise. It wasn’t an easy decision. It was weird, the process was long and stressful … but it was also a lot of fun.”
- Zwelling writes that Anthopoulos was in negotiation for players such as Ben Zobrist, Gerardo Parra and Mike Leake as well, but an eventual phone call from Detroit’s Dave Dombrowski caused him to shift his focus to Price. Dombrowski had told Anthopoulos a week before the trade deadline that he’d call him if he decided to move Price, and despite the fact that Anthopoulos saw constant rumors about Price’s availability, his respect for Dombrowski prevented him from calling to check in. “His guarantee that he’d call me was all I needed,” said Anthopoulos. “Dave’s a complete pro. No matter what was being said in the media, I was going to take his word for it. When and if the time presented itself, he was going to call.”
- Anthopoulos tells Zwelling that while there was pressure to get a deal for Price and/or another starter done, he did have a fallback plan. Anthopoulos had a standing agreement in place for a yet-unnamed lesser pitcher than Price that he could’ve swung on July 31, but the move for Price halted that need.
- Keri notes that Anthopoulos was on the phone with Mariners counterpart Jack Zduriencik discussing Mark Lowe when Dombrowski came calling with the info that he was ready to move Price. “I’m dying to jump off the phone, but I don’t want to do that to Jack,” said Anthopoulos. “I did really want Price, though. So I did hurry it along.”
- Keri cites a Blue Jays source in reporting that the Blue Jays nearly had a trade completed for the Indians’ Carlos Carrasco, but talks fell apart just as the Jays thought they had something worked out. The Jays also checked in with the Phillies on Cole Hamels over the winter, in Spring Training, before the All-Star break and with 10 days to go before the trade deadline, Keri reports, but were repeatedly told that Hamels wouldn’t waive his no-trade clause to approve a deal to Toronto. Anthopoulos also aggressively pursued the Padres’ Tyson Ross, according to Keri’s source, though he gives no indication that anything was as close with Ross as it seemingly was with Carrasco.
Full Story | 14 Comments | Categories: Alex Anthopoulos | Ben Zobrist | Carlos Carrasco | Cleveland Indians | Cole Hamels | Colorado Rockies | David Price | Gerardo Parra | Jeff Hoffman | Jose Reyes | Mark Lowe | Mike Leake | Newsstand | Oakland Athletics | Philadelphia Phillies | San Diego Padres | Seattle Mariners | Toronto Blue Jays | Troy Tulowitzki | Tyson Ross
The blockbuster trade sending start shortstop Troy Tulowitzki from the Rockies to the Blue Jays is now official. He’s officially heading to Toronto along with veteran reliever LaTroy Hawkins. In return, the Rockies will pick up the rest of the contract of Jose Reyes (saving about $50MM against Tulo’s deal) and add three quality right-handed pitching prospects (Jeff Hoffman, Miguel Castro and Jesus Tinoco).
Here are the some of the many reactions to the overnight deal, along with the latest notes from the teams involved:
- Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos’ persistent approach paid off in the end, writes Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. According to Rosenthal, Anthopoulos first contacted Rockies GM Jeff Bridich about the possibility of acquiring Tulowitzki this winter, but Bridich wasn’t interested in taking on Reyes as part of the return. The same held true in May, but there was a bit of traction in early July, and business picked up quickly on Monday night. (Rosenthal adds that Anthopoulos took the same dogged approach with A’s GM Billy Beane in offseason talks for Josh Donaldson.)
- After being promised that he’d be consulted prior to any trade, Tulowitzki instead found out when manager Walt Weiss, with tears in his eyes, pulled the franchise cornerstone from the game in the ninth inning on Monday, reports Yahoo’s Jeff Passan. The Rockies, Passan continues, asked that Tulo not publicly demand a trade so as not to weaken their stance in discussions, and he obliged. Both Passan and Rosenthal note that Tulowitzki is not pleased with the manner in which his exit from Colorado was handled. Notably, Passan writes that the Rockies’ young players have said to one another since the trade that owner Dick Monfort should have flown into Chicago to inform Tulowitzki in person. This type of ugly exit sets a bad precedent with remaining stars around whom the Rockies want to build (e.g. Nolan Arenado, Corey Dickerson), Passan opines.
- As for Arenado, he expressed some dismay at the situation to Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post. “I don’t know any of these dudes we got,” Arenado said. “But I think if we were going to trade Tulo, I would think it would be for an ace, an established veteran pitcher. Obviously we are starting to rebuild from the ground up.” (To be fair, it seems that Arenado was referring to the prospect pitching that came back in the deal, not the veteran Reyes.)
- Rosenthal adds that the Blue Jays are still intent on adding starting pitching, and he speculatively wonders if the addition of Tulowitzki’s imposing bat will make it easier for the Blue Jays to part with Jose Bautista or Edwin Encarnacion to make that happen. But reports have indicated that won’t occur, and GM Alex Anthopoulos confirmed in his press conference that the team does not intend to move its big league bats to add arms (via Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca, on Twitter). In Passan’s piece above, he notes that the team will be active on the pitching front but deal from its prospect depth instead of its big league roster.
- The team does, however, intend to remain active on the market for relievers and, especially, starters. Anthopoulos said he hopes to make staff additions over the next few days, as Sportsnet’s Arash Madani tweets.
- Coming out of this deal, the Jays could look to add another option in left field, Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca reports. He also cites a report from Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun regarding the failure of Toronto’s recent attempt to pry Carlos Carrasco away from the Indians. Hoffman would have been a part of that deal, along with highly-regarded prospects Daniel Norris and Dalton Pompey, which could explain in part how things worked out. (It’s also an indication of what kind of price Carrasco could command.)
- Looking ahead, Anthopoulos says that the Blue Jays see Tulowitzki as a future piece for the club, as Brendan Kennedy of the Toronto Star reports on Twitter. “We would have taken Tulowitzki in the offseason, we just couldn’t get a deal done,” said the Toronto GM. “This is not a July deal.”
- Several rival executives believe the Rockies will keep Reyes with hopes that he’ll regain some value over the second half, Passan tweets. Certainly, playing at Coors Field promises to boost his batting line, though injuries have long been an issue for the Rockies. The strategy certainly does make some sense at first glance, though, as the team may not be prepared to hand the everyday job to prospect Trevor Story and Reyes could find a much wider market over the winter. I’d also add that he could factor as an August trade piece in the event that a contender has a need arise.
- The Cardinals talked with the Rockies about Tulowitzki before he was moved, sources tell Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (on Twitter). Morosi notes that Tulowitzki is close with outfielder Matt Holliday, so that might have been a good fit for the shortstop.
- The Rockies and Cardinals have discussed Tulo in the past, but a deal never came together because the asking price was “absurd,” one source tells Derrick Goold of the Post-Dispatch. Various sources have indicated that the Rockies sought a package that included, at times, Carlos Martinez, Trevor Rosenthal, and Matt Adams — and possibly all three. That was too much for the Cardinals, who also made it clear that Michael Wacha was not going to be in such a deal.
- The Yankees, meanwhile, were never even engaged by the Rockies before the deal was struck, Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweets. While New York had long seemed a plausible destination, we also heard earlier today that the Mets passed on an opportunity to get involved.
- It was notable, of course, that the Jays made this big of a splash to add a position player, but Dave Cameron of Fangraphs argues that the team’s desire to add pitching shouldn’t preclude it from upgrading in any way possible. Bolstering the team’s lineup (as well as its defense) still adds runs to the ledger, and Cameron suggests that Toronto may well be correct in assessing that it made more sense to utilize its young arms in this deal than to move them for a rental arm (or, perhaps, a somewhat less productive and/or risky controllable starter). It’s a lengthy and detailed piece — all the more impressive since Cameron pulled it together not long after the deal went down — and is well worth a full read.
- Obviously, Toronto did give up real value to bring in one of the game’s biggest stars. Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs breaks down the three hurlers involved in the swap. He explains that Jeff Hoffman still has plenty of upside, but appears to have dialed back the aggressiveness in his delivery since his return from Tommy John surgery. Miguel Castro, meanwhile, has a live arm but needs significant refinement. And Jesus Tinoco fits roughly the same profile, delivering ample tools to dream on but figuring as a possible future pen arm if he does not develop as hoped.
- For ESPN.com’s Keith Law, despite the promise of the departing arms, the deal represents a win for the Jays given that they did not have to part with either Norris or Aaron Sanchez. He sees Hoffman more as a future mid-rotation starter than a top-line arm, with Castro looking like a strong future reliever and Tinoco a back-end rotation piece.
Full Story | 22 Comments | Categories: Aaron Sanchez | Carlos Carrasco | Cleveland Indians | Colorado Rockies | Dalton Pompey | Daniel Norris | Edwin Encarnacion | Jeff Hoffman | Jose Bautista | Jose Reyes | LaTroy Hawkins | Miguel Castro | New York Mets | New York Yankees | Nolan Arenado | St. Louis Cardinals | Toronto Blue Jays | Trevor Rosenthal | Troy Tulowitzki
Despite very public statements indicating that the team is all in on 2015, the Orioles are now giving “serious consideration” to selling, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports on Twitter. As Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports notes (Twitter links), Baltimore owner Peter Angelos has previously been disinclined to authorize such a move, but that could change (at least in theory) with several of the team’s better players set to reach free agency. Of course, executive vice president Dan Duquette said on Wednesday that his club will be a buyer. But a sweep at the hands of the division-leading Yankees has certainly impacted the team’s chances of making a run at the AL East.
Here’s more from the division:
- The Blue Jays remain in “active discussions” with the White Sox about right-hander Jeff Samardzija, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (Twitter link). The Jays have been said to have “strong” interest in adding Samardzija, a potential free agent at the end of the season. Upgrading the pitching staff is the Blue Jays’ top priority in the week leading up to the trade deadline, and Samardzija, whose eight-inning gem on Thursday dropped his ERA to 3.91, would certainly do that. Over his past eight outings, Samardzija has a 2.55 ERA, and he’s lasted at least seven innings in each of those contests. As Peter Gammons pointed out earlier today on Twitter, for a team with bullpen woes in addition to rotation troubles, adding a pitcher that is capable of effectively working deep into games should carry even greater appeal.
- If the Tigers do end up selling, the Blue Jays will have interest in closer Joakim Soria, tweets Anthony Fenech of the Detroit News. Soria would be a pure rental, as he’s a free agent at the end of the year. He’s earning $7MM and has posted an even 3.00 ERA with 7.8 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9 in his 39 innings this season, though he’s also had an unusually difficult time with home runs, which could make pitching at the Rogers Centre a challenge.
- The Blue Jays‘ pursuit of Scott Kazmir illustrates that it’s “becoming more clear” that the team is open to a rental acquisition, writes Shi Davidi of Sportsnet. Davidi notes that the Kazmir talks were never going to get off the ground based on the asking price — “think Jeff Hoffman or Daniel Norris,” says Davidi — especially considering Kazmir’s injury scares. Health concerns are another reason to wonder if the Blue Jays will seriously pursue Johnny Cueto or not, he adds. While the Blue Jays may be warming to the idea of a rental arm, they can’t afford to have their acquisition miss any time, and Cueto’s had a pair of minor elbow issues in 2015.
- While the Blue Jays made a “big push” to land Carlos Carrasco from the Indians, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter link), the trade simply “didn’t get done.” Cleveland isn’t necessarily motivated to trade a starter, though they’re also not entirely ruling out the possibility.
- The Yankees have shown at least some interest in Marlins righty Mat Latos, Joe Frisaro of MLB.com reports on Twitter. They join a growing list of clubs that have shown some inclination to take a chance on Latos’s resurgence and past success. New York has given public indication that it is not lining up any major moves, but it would be surprising if it does not at least make a few acquisitions at areas of need, and rotation depth could certainly make sense.
Full Story | 40 Comments | Categories: Baltimore Orioles | Carlos Carrasco | Chicago White Sox | Cleveland Indians | Daniel Norris | Detroit Tigers | Discussion | Jeff Hoffman | Jeff Samardzija | Joakim Soria | Johnny Cueto | Mat Latos | Miami Marlins | New York Yankees | Scott Kazmir | Toronto Blue Jays
As Alex Speier of the Boston Globe writes, agent Scott Boras recently addressed the progress of client Xander Bogaerts, who struggled in his first full big league season but enters the 2015 All-Star break hitting .304/.338/.411. As Speier notes, Bogaerts is currently on pace to hit free agency entering his age-27 season — a rare occurrence for any player. Boras noted that rarity, making sure to point out that fellow client Bryce Harper will have an early taste of free agency, but denied that he discourages his clients from signing long-term deals before free agency. Boras maintains that he’s “absolutely” open to long-term deals for clients. Said Boras: “With our clients, we give them a lot of information. I always tell teams, I don’t know of any players we have that haven’t signed a deal that they felt was a value deal for them.” For his part, Bogaerts said that he loves playing in Boston and hopes to remain there, although clearly he’s quite a ways from having to face the possibility of playing elsewhere.
More from the AL East…
- Rick Porcello spoke with WEEI.com’s John Tomase about his disastrous first half and the importance of trying to take away some positives from the season’s first few months. Porcello, who will spend the All-Star break decompressing at his family’s home in southern Vermont, maintained that he was not feeling the pressures that can come along with signing a large contract. “They brought me over here because of what I’ve done and who I am,” said Porcello. “That’s the most important thing. There’s no added pressure on myself. I am who I am. I can’t try and be somebody else or do something I’m not capable of doing. So that hasn’t factored into it at all.”
- The Blue Jays are “regularly being asked for Marcus Stroman” as a return in trades for pitching, reports Shi Davidi of Sportsnet. Despite the fact that Stroman won’t contribute to the team in 2015 after tearing his ACL this spring, the Blue Jays won’t be trading him, Davidi writes. Looking at the trade history of GM Alex Anthopoulos, Davidi notes that it’s probably more likely to see the Blue Jays acquire someone with some team control remaining. He lists the Padres as a speculative trade partner, noting that both Andrew Cashner and Tyson Ross would fit that mold. Acquiring a starter or two would allow the Blue Jays to transfer Aaron Sanchez to the bullpen to help fix the team’s relief woes, though trade possibilities exist there, too. Jonathan Papelbon said at yesterday’s All-Star festivities that he considered the Jays a “good fit” and would waive his no-trade clause to go there.
- As Alykhan K. Ravjiani of Postmedia first tweeted, the Blue Jays have promoted top prospect Jeff Hoffman to Double-A. Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet notes that the promotion comes at a time when the Jays are on the hunt for pitching, and Hoffman is likely to be asked about frequently, perhaps along with prospects Daniel Norris and Matt Boyd. Hoffman was a candidate to be selected first overall in the 2014 draft but fell to the Blue Jays with the ninth pick after undergoing Tommy John surgery. Now healthy, Hoffman has a 3.21 ERA through his first 11 starts with Class-A Advanced, where he’s averaged 6.1 walks against 2.4 walks per nine innings.
- Though man Orioles fans believe the team’s diminished run production to be a reason for the club’s struggles, MASNsports.com’s Steve Melewski opines that questionable starting pitching is the greater culprit. While the decisions to let Nelson Cruz and Nick Markakis leave via free agency has had a negative impact on the offense, poor performances from Chris Tillman, Bud Norris and more recently, Miguel Gonzalez, have left Baltimore with a 4.20 ERA from its rotation.
MLBPA executive director Tony Clark is said to be “ready to reach out to [Kris] Bryant soon to determine his mindset” on whether or not a grievance should be filed against the Cubs for holding him in Triple-A to start the season, writes Jon Heyman of CBS Sports in his latest Inside Baseball column. Heyman notes that the union could file a grievance on Bryant’s behalf even without his consent, though that’s unlikely. The issue at hand, of course, would be whether or not Bryant was clearly one of Chicago’s 25 best players and the demotion was made purely for service time implications. (Chicago bought an extra year of control over Bryant by stashing him in the Minors for all of eight games/11 days). Heyman points out that it would be difficult to an arbitrator to rule in Bryant’s favor, as there’s no precedent for this type of grievance. Players in similar situations have historically been hesitant to file a grievance, he adds, because it would be a contentious way to begin a relationship with a team to which a player will be tied for the next six-plus years. A “Cubs connected person” called the notion of a grievance “laughable” when asked by Heyman. However, the points that Bryant was recalled on the first day the team could add him while still delaying free agency and slotted directly into the cleanup spot could make a case that the club had an understanding of his value, Heyman writes. From the union’s perspective, it’s understandable that they’d have interest in preventing this type of situation in the future, even if it’s a long shot.
More highlights from a lengthy Heyman column…
- The Padres don’t yet view Melvin Upton Jr. as a throwaway piece and will use him as an occasional outfielder and pinch-runner, Heyman writes. He also looks back on Upton’s original five-year, $75.2MM pact and notes that it’s one of the worst contracts in recent history, particularly given the fact that the next-highest offer was believed to come from the Phillies at somewhere in the $40MMs.
- The league’s investigation into the Rays‘ allegations of the Cubs‘ tampering in the Joe Maddon saga could come to a close as soon as next week, per Heyman. MLB was still interviewing people as recently as last week, but to this point there “is believed to have been no smoking guns found.”
- The Reds never approached right-hander Mike Leake about a contract extension this offseason, and the free-agent-to-be is said to be a bit hurt not to have been contacted. Leake’s not a front-line starter, but he’ll hit the open market heading into his age-28 season and currently sports a 3.56 ERA in 427 1/3 innings dating back to Opening Day 2013. A third straight season of 190+ innings and an ERA in the mid-3.00s should position him for a nice contract, especially considering the fact that half of his starts have come in the hitter-friendly Great American Ball Park.
- Multiple teams have worked out Rafael Soriano, and while he’s on the Tigers‘ radar, there’s also been some contact with the Mariners. Heyman adds the Pirates, Indians and Dodgers as “logical suitors,” though I’d imagine the Pirates and Indians in particular would have some payroll constraints, depending on the asking price of agent Scott Boras.
- Heyman echoes ESPN’s Buster Olney in speculating that the Dodgers could make a run at extending Howie Kendrick, noting that the Dodgers love Kendrick both on the field and in the clubhouse. He also notes that the Dodgers are impressed with Alex Guerrero‘s bat and may coming around on him as a passable option at third base or in left field, though the team is already well-stocked at each position.
- The Pirates and Gregory Polanco may have come as close as about $1MM on agreeing to a seven-year contract, Heyman hears. The biggest holdup was over the three club options on the deal, which ranged from $11-13MM, and when the team would have been required to exercise them.
- Though recent reports have indicated that John Lackey hopes the Cardinals will approach him about an extension, Heyman writes that it’s not a likely scenario. St. Louis likes its pitching depth and the young starters in line beyond those in the 2015 rotation.
- The Orioles asked the Blue Jays for both of the team’s first round picks from the 2014 draft — right-hander Jeff Hoffman and catcher Max Pentecost — in exchange for the ability to hire EVP/general manager Dan Duquette as their new president, according to Heyman.
Full Story | 56 Comments | Categories: B.J. Upton | Baltimore Orioles | Chicago Cubs | Cincinnati Reds | Dan Duquette | Detroit Tigers | Gregory Polanco | Howie Kendrick | Jeff Hoffman | Joe Maddon | John Lackey | Kris Bryant | Los Angeles Dodgers | Max Pentecost | Mike Leake | Philadelphia Phillies | Pittsburgh Pirates | Rafael Soriano | San Diego Padres | Seattle Mariners | St. Louis Cardinals | Tampa Bay Rays | Toronto Blue Jays
Rusney Castillo‘s strained oblique may cause him to miss a bit of Spring Training time, yet the injury isn’t considered to be particularly serious. Still, WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford posits that this setback might convince the Red Sox to give Castillo some extra minor league preparation time at the start of the season and give the center field job to Mookie Betts. Castillo told Bradford that he would be open to being in the minors if the team felt it necessary, and his long-term contract makes him secure about his role in Boston’s plans. “Of course there is a degree of comfort in that that I’m going be here for a while,” Castillo said. “At the same time, if you don’t want to be in the minor leagues ramp it up and work harder to not be there.”
Here’s some more from around the AL East…
- Orioles executive VP Dan Duquette spoke to reporters (including MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko) about the team’s release of Suk-min Yoon earlier today and Yoon’s subsequent return to the KBO’s Kia Tigers. Duquette confirmed that Yoon gave up the $4.15MM still owed to him under the Orioles contract in order to make the deal happen. “The good part of this is that this didn’t work, but we were able to correct the mistake, if you will, and we have that money available to invest in other players,” Duquette said.
- After a tumultuous year that has included Tommy John surgery, being drafted by the Blue Jays and then mentioned in trade rumors to acquire Duquette as Toronto’s new team president, Jeff Hoffman tells Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi that he is looking forward to just “putting on a uniform again” once he’s finished his rehab work. Hoffman provides a progress report on his recovery from his surgery last May.
- After years of struggling to find reliable left-handed relievers, the Yankees look to have solved the problem with Andrew Miller, Chasen Shreve and Justin Wilson all in the fold, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes. Ironically, this comes at a time when there are only a few standout left-handed hitters amongst the Yankees’ AL East rivals, Sherman notes.
The Orioles‘ reported asking price of right-hander Jeff Hoffman (and others) from the Blue Jays in exchange for executive vice president/GM Dan Duquette seemingly ended those negotiations, but Jeff Blair of Sportsnet reports that the Orioles weren’t the only club to try to acquire Hoffman from Toronto this winter. According to Blair, the Braves also asked the Blue Jays for Hoffman when the two sides discussed a trade involving Justin Upton. Toronto’s answer, Blair says, was an emphatic “no.” Coincidentally, the Braves wound up acquiring another high-upside, former first-round pitcher that’s recovering from Tommy John — Max Fried — as the centerpiece in their trade of Upton to San Diego. Meanwhile, Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos tells Blair that Hoffman, who was selected ninth overall in 2014 despite his surgery, is expected to get stretched back out in April, with an eye on activating him with a minor league club in May.
A few more notes pertaining to the game’s Eastern divisions before the northeast portion of the country is buried in snow…
- The Phillies never presented the Brewers with a firm financial offer in their trade talks regarding Jonathan Papelbon, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Those talks appear to be largely dead at this point, and the Phillies may end up hanging on to Papelbon to begin the season, based on Rosenthal’s writings. He adds that GM Ruben Amaro Jr. isn’t under pressure from ownership to move Papelbon and will only trade him if the move is to the team’s benefit.
- The acquisition of Alejandro De Aza last summer could end up being a key factor in the Orioles‘ 2015 season, as the former White Sox outfielder now looks to be a big piece of the roster, writes Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com. With Nelson Cruz and Nick Markakis gone and no external replacements brought in, De Aza figures to be the team’s primary left fielder and leadoff hitter. Though that may seem an underwhelming option to some, Kubatko points out that De Aza’s career OBP mark (.330) would be a nice boost over last season’s team OBP of .311.
- Fangraphs’ Kiley McDaniel takes a look at the Yankees‘ new glut of international prospects in his ranking of the team’s minor leaguers, with colleague Dave Cameron noting in an introduction that the team’s philosophical shift could pay off in spades a few years down the line. While the Yankees have always been known for spending significantly on free agency, they instead opted to go on a spending spree and blow past their allotted international bonus pool this year while exercising what some consider to be surprising restraint in terms of big league free agents.
The Blue Jays have broken off negotiations over Dan Duquette after refusing the Orioles’ demand of Jeff Hoffman and two other top prospects as compensation, reports Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca. The Blue Jays’ interest in hiring Duquettte to replace Paul Beeston as team president first broke last December, but Davidi writes a deal between the two clubs was at no point close. MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko adds this is not the first time talks have stalled and the Orioles have no knowledge of the Blue Jays’ intentions.
The Blue Jays, according to Davidi, were willing to offer a package of minor league players similar to past precedents (the Red Sox receiving right-hander Chris Carpenter from the Cubs for Theo Epstein, for example) with the baseball departments of both clubs negotiating over names once a deal for Duquette was reached. MLB would mediate, if necessary, as it did between the Red Sox and Cubs. Davidi notes the Blue Jays never proposed any names, but the Orioles were believed to be seeking, in addition to Hoffman (the ninth overall pick in the 2014 draft), catcher Max Pentecost (the 11th overall selection in that 2014 draft) and infielder Mitch Nay (the 58th overall pick in the 2012 draft).
In the last 48 hours, reports emerged that MLB was tiring of the courtship, the Orioles were pushing for a substantial return for Duquette, and were considering tampering charges against the Blue Jays. Toronto also began receving criticism for its pursuit of Duquette.
This development leaves both franchises at a crossroads. For the Orioles, the question is can Duquette repair any hard feelings within the Baltimore organization which may have developed over his flirtation with a division rival, as the Orioles aim to defend their AL East title amidst a winter of distraction. For the Blue Jays, will they be able to overcome the black eye suffered with their messy negotiations over Duquette and the White Sox denying them permission to interview Kenny Williams and find a talented executive willing be their third choice to replace the outgoing Beeston.
With the 2014 free agent class thinning out behind James Shields, Francisco Rodriguez, and Rafael Soriano, the New York Post’s Ken Davidoff takes a look ahead at the 2015 free agent market. Davidoff predicts David Price will sign the richest contract of the class – if he doesn’t ink an extension first. He also predicts Matt Wieters will sneak his way into a big contract while Justin Upton could be seriously hurt by his move to San Diego.
- If Orioles Executive VP Dan Duquette does join the Blue Jays, Baltimore should receive one or two good prospects, opines John Lott of the National Post. However, Lott also figures first round pick Jeff Hoffman is too steep a price. Historically, executives have not cost much in player talent to acquire. Randy Winn represents the best such return, with most trades featuring minor leaguers who barely sniff the majors. Baseball should enforce stiffer costs to front office poaching in Lott’s opinion. Personally, I imagine a punitive but purely financial cost would be the fairest way to approach the problem.
- From the Orioles perspective, the club needs to definitively decide Duquette’s future before their upcoming FanFest, writes Peter Schmuck of the Baltimore Sun. Both Duquette and owner Peter Angelos do “things at [their] own pace,” so the situation could linger. For what it’s worth, the White Sox diffused the rumors quickly when Ken Williams was in the spotlight. That tells me the Orioles are genuinely open to dealing Duquette.
- With the signing of Geovany Soto, White Sox catcher Tyler Flowers has competition, writes Scott Merkin of MLB.com. Flowers is still penciled in as the starter behind the dish, but the club has plenty of depth with Soto, George Kottaras, Rob Brantly, and Adrian Nieto. GM Rick Hahn mentioned Kottaras as a potential platoon partner for Flowers.
- Alex Meyer, the Twins fourth best prospect and 27th overall per MLB.com, figures to compete to become the club’s fifth starter, reports Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com. Candidates for the back of the rotation include Mike Pelfrey, Tommy Milone, and Trevor May. Given that he still has options, he’ll have to seriously impress to beat out his veteran counterparts and May.