Jeremy Jeffress Rumors
Today's minor moves...
- The Blue Jays outrighted 25-year-old righty Jeremy Jeffress, tweets Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca. Jeffress had been designated for assignment on April 6th to open a 40-man roster spot for David Bush. The Jays had acquired him from the Royals for cash considerations in November. Jeffress, a former first-round pick of the Brewers, had joined Kansas City in the December 2010 Zack Greinke trade. Jeffress has a big fastball, though he's dealt with a pair of suspensions for marijuana. He posted a 4.97 ERA, 9.5 K/9, 3.9 BB/9, and 0.62 HR/9 in 58 Triple-A innings last year.
Jose Reyes says that he isn't sweating the Blue Jays' slow start and it doesn't sound like the front office is either. Here's the latest out of Toronto..
- The Blue Jays' claim of Casper Wells off of waivers likely means that Toronto will soon go with a seven-man bullpen, writes MLB.com's Gregor Chisholm. The club had been carrying eight relievers but that will soon change and it's probable that right-hander Edgar Gonzalez will be the one who is designated for assignment. Gonzalez was claimed off of waivers on Sunday.
- General Manager Alex Anthopoulos told reporters, including Shi Davidi of Sportsnet, that Miguel Batista was signed primarily for minor league depth. The right-hander was assigned to Triple-A Buffalo after being picked up yesterday afternoon.
- Jeremy Jeffress hasn't been placed on waivers just yet and Anthopoulos noted that he has until Sunday to do so, Davidi writes. The club is also going to look and see if there's a deal for the reliever, but there's no interest just yet.
The Blue Jays have selected the contract of righty Dave Bush and designated fellow reliever Jeremy Jeffress for assignment, the team announced via press release and on Twitter. Jeffress, 25, is out of options.
Jeffress gave up two walks and a home run in his first outing this year, after pitching 13 1/3 innings of 6.75 ERA ball for the Royals last year. Once a highly touted prospect, Jeffress was part of the deal that sent Zack Greinke to the Brewers. The Jays acquired him from Kansas City in the offseason for cash considerations.
Bush pitched in Korea in 2012 after eight big league seasons. His last season as a regular MLB starter was in 2010, when he started 31 games for the Brewers and logged a 4.54 ERA in 174 1/3 innings. In 2011, Bush struggled as a reliever and spot starter for the Rangers, sporting a 5.79 ERA over 37 1/3 innings.
Zack Greinke made quite a few headlines this offseason by becoming the highest-paid right-handed pitcher in Major League history (Felix Hernandez has since topped him). The former No. 6 overall selection in the draft signed a six-year, $147MM with the Dodgers.
Greinke has long been a high-profile arm, thanks largely to his 2009 American League Cy Young Award. His 9.3 wins above replacement (Fangraphs version) that season were the most by any pitcher since Randy Johnson's 2004 season.
So it's no wonder that Greinke had a long list of suitors when it became evident that the Royals were going to trade him. Nor is it surprising that Greinke commanded a young shortstop, a young center fielder and a pair of right-handers that had both been first-round picks.
On December 19, 2010, the Royals traded Greinke and Yuniesky Betancourt to the Brewers in exchange for shortstop Alcides Escobar (24 years old at the time), center fielder Lorenzo Cain (24), right-hander Jake Odorizzi (20) and right-hander Jeremy Jeffress (23). Each player in the deal had recently ranked in Milwaukee's Top 10 prospects, according to Baseball America. Let's take a look at each on an individual basis...
The Major League Side
- Zack Greinke: Greinke joined Shaun Marcum as one of two offseason acquisitions for the Brewers that offseason, as the team clearly had an "all-in" mentality entering the final season of Prince Fielder's contract. He broke a rib that offseason playing basketball, limiting him to 171 2/3 innings, but he pitched to a 3.83 ERA with an NL-best 10.5 K/9 when healthy. The Brewers ultimately finished with a 96-66 record, netting them an NL Central Division title. Greinke got his only taste of postseason baseball that year but allowed an unsightly 12 earned runs in 16 2/3 innings. The Brewers lost in the NLCS to the Cardinals, who would go on to win the World Series. Greinke hurled 123 more innings for the Brew Crew in 2012, pitching to a 3.44 ERA, 8.9 K/9 and 2.0 BB/9 before being traded to the Angels. GM Doug Melvin landed Jean Segura, John Hellweg and Ariel Pena in that deal, but that's a whole different post.
- Yuniesky Betancourt: Betancourt hit a paltry .252/.271/.381 with the Brewers but still totaled 584 plate appearances in spite of that sub-par production. His defense was also well below-average, and the result was a mere 0.4 wins above replacement, per Fangraphs. Betancourt did manage to swat 13 homers that season -- the second-highest mark of his career -- but his lack of plate discipline and poor glove mitigated most of that value. He would go on to re-sign with the Royals as a free agent the following offseason and is now in the Phillies organization as a non-roster invitee.
- Alcides Escobar: Milwaukee's No. 3 prospect at the time of the trade (per BA) Escobar has blossomed into the Royals' everyday shortstop, posting fWAR marks of 2.2 and 2.6 in his first two seasons with Kansas City. He doesn't walk often (4.2 percent), but he's posted a respectable .274/.311/.368 triple slash line with Kansas City. That includes significant improvement from 2011-12, as his OPS+ jumped from 74 to 98 between the two years. He's developed into an elite base-stealer, collecting 61 swipes in 75 tries (81.3 percent). In 2012, he went 35-for-40 (87.5 percent). The Fielding Bible evaluates Escobar's defense at +12 runs during his time with Kansas City, while Ultimate Zone Rating feels he's been closer to average. Still just 26 years old, Escobar has room for growth.
- Lorenzo Cain: Cain's arrival as Kansas City's everyday center fielder was delayed by the acquisition of Melky Cabrera. Groin and thigh strains have cost Cain 98 games between his two seasons with the Royals, but he looks poised to take the reins as the team's everyday center fielder in 2013. It's a small sample, but Cain has a .266/.315/.410 batting line in 267 plate appearances with the Royals. His seven homers and ten steals translate to a 162-game average of 17 homers and 25 steals -- a well-above average combination of power and speed for a center fielder. In 726 1/3 career innings in center, UZR/150 rates him at 14.4 runs above average, and The Fielding Bible agrees at +15 runs. He's excelled in the Minors for the Royals and is in the midst of an impressive Spring Training showing, but he'll already be 27 on April 13. Kansas City needs to let Cain play in order to determine if they have a long-term piece this season.
The Prospect Side
- Jake Odorizzi: Odorizzi made his big league debut for Kansas City in 2012, but totaled only 7 1/3 innings. Those will likely be the only innings he ever throws for the Royals, as GM Dayton Moore included the now-22-year-old in the James Shields trade. Odorizzi is BA's No. 92 prospect in all of baseball, and he ranks 45th on MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo's version of the same list. BA ranks him fifth among Rays prospects, praising his four average pitches (fastball, slider, curve, change-up) but noting that he lacks a true out pitch. Both BA and Mayo agree that Odorizzi has a chance to become a reliable No. 3 starter, but his ceiling is limited by average offerings across the board.
- Jeremy Jeffress: Jeffress' star has fallen considerably since he ranked as BA's No. 100 prospect prior to the 2009 season. Now 25 years of age, the Royals traded him to the Blue Jays for cash considerations this past November. Jeffress pitched 82 innings for Kansas City's Triple-A affiliate and maintained his strong strikeout rate (9.3 K/9) but walked too many (4.7 BB/9) and allowed nearly a hit per inning as well. He received a pair of call-ups to the big league club but walked 24 batters in 26 2/3 innings. He has the potential to be a power arm late in games, but he'll now look to fulfill that upside elsewhere.
In the end, the Brewers got an ace-caliber pitcher and an NLCS berth in exchange for the four prospects they dealt. Greinke managed to net them a trio of prospects including a new, promising shortstop to replace Escobar. Kansas City turned Greinke into an everyday shortstop, a promising center fielder and a pitching prospect that helped them acquire a new ace-caliber pitcher (Shields). However, the Royals are better positioned to compete with this top-of-the-rotation arm than they were the last time they had one.
Both teams fell a bit short of their best case scenarios (Milwaukee didn't win a World Series, and Kansas City cut ties with Jeffress for next to nothing), but this is a trade that definitely reaped benefits for each side.
Baseball America's 2013 Prospect Handbook was used in the creation of this post. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
The Blue Jays have been one of the busiest teams this offseason, per MLBTR's Transaction Tracker. GM Alex Anthopoulos has traded a manager (John Farrell), hired his replacement (John Gibbons, his second stint in Toronto), acquired the reigning NL Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey, Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, Emilio Bonifacio, Josh Thole, Mike Nickeas, and Esmil Rogers while signing free agents Melky Cabrera, Maicer Izturis, Henry Blanco, and Mark DeRosa. Is there anything left for Anthopoulos to do before pitchers and catchers report to Dunedin on February 12? MLB.com's Gregor Chisholm answered that question and others when he opened his inbox recently.
- The remaining moves the Blue Jays have left to make are minor league signings for organizational depth, writes Chisholm.
- The only real area of competition is the bullpen. Casey Janssen and Sergio Santos will battle to be the closer. Right-hander Jeremy Jeffress is a favorite to win a job, as he is out of options. Chisholm thinks Brandon Lyon would add a reliable veteran presence to the bullpen, but doesn't see the Blue Jays re-signing the right-hander because the team has reached its payroll limit.
- It appears Izturis received some sort of promise from the organization he would be the starting second baseman before agreeing to his three-year, $10MM deal, according to Chisholm. Look for Bonifacio to be used in a super utility role even though, in Chisholm's view, he has more upside than Izturis and would bring another element of speed to the lineup.
- Don't expect Kyle Drabek and Drew Hutchison, both recovering from Tommy John surgery, to make a major impact until 2014.
- The Blue Jays' farm system has been weakened by the flurry of trades this offseason. Chisholm notes there's talent in the lower levels, which is at least three years away, but that isn't a concern for the Blue Jays because their core is tied up for a similar period at the big league level.
Four years ago today, the Yankees traded a package headlined by Wilson Betemit to the White Sox for Nick Swisher. After helping New York to the 2009 World Series and three other playoff appearances, Swisher is now in line for a big multiyear contract as a free agent this winter. Here's the latest from the AL East...
- Dan Martin of The New York Post reports that the Yankees have had "preliminary discussions" about bringing Raul Ibanez back as a platoon player next season. The 40-year-old played more than the club would have liked this year due to Brett Gardner's injury.
- The Orioles are telling teams that their priorities in the trade market are first base, left field, and DH according to MLB.com's Brittany Ghiroli (on Twitter). GM Dan Duquette said several clubs match up well with their needs.
- Rival executives tell Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports that Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos is "itching" to make a trade (Twitter link). Toronto is targeting starting pitching.
- Meanwhile, MLB.com's Gregor Chisholm listed the Blue Jays' 12 out of options players (Twitter links): Brett Cecil, Rajai Davis, Jeremy Jeffress, Adam Lind, Jeff Mathis, Mike McCoy, Dustin McGowan, Luis Perez, Esmil Rogers, Sergio Santos, Cory Wade, and Bobby Wilson.
- Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe wonders (on Twitter) how far the Red Sox will extend themselves to sign Mike Napoli now that there is competition from the Yankees. He notes that Boston went the extra mile to sign David Ross.
- Jerry Sands, who was acquired in the blockbuster trade with the Dodgers, could be a platoon answer for the Red Sox at first base or in either corner outfield spot, according to CSNNE.com.
The Blue Jays have acquired Jeremy Jeffress from the Royals for cash considerations according to his agent, report Danny Knobler and Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (Twitter links). Jeffress is represented by Double Diamond Sports Management.
Kansas City designated Jeffress for assignment late last week. They originally acquired him from the Brewers in the Zack Greinke deal, but he's spent most of the last two years in Triple-A. The 25-year-old Jeffress owns a 4.89 ERA in 38 2/3 big league innings spread out over the last three years. He owns a 5.60 ERA with 9.3 K/9 and 4.7 BB/9 in 82 career Triple-A innings.
The Royals announced that they designated right-hander Jeremy Jeffress, left-hander Tommy Hottovy and outfielder Jason Bourgeois for assignment. The Royals needed 40-man roster space to claim Guillermo Moscoso and Brett Hayes and reinstate Danny Duffy and Felipe Paulino from the 60-day disabled list.
Jeffress spent most of the 2012 season at Triple-A, where he posted a 4.97 ERA with 9.5 K/9 and 3.9 BB/9 in 58 innings of relief. Hottovy spent most of the season in the Omaha bullpen with Jeffress. The 31-year-old left-hander posted a 2.52 ERA with 11.0 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9 in 50 innings. Bourgeois appeared in 30 games with Kansas City this past season, posting a .258/.303/.323 batting line in 66 plate appearances.
The Brewers entered this offseason with the goal of upgrading their rotation. Today, they acquired Zack Greinke, Yuniesky Betancourt, and $2MM from the Royals for Lorenzo Cain, Alcides Escobar, Jeremy Jeffress, and Jake Odorizzi. The Royals have confirmed the move in a press release. After already acquiring Shaun Marcum in exchange for Brett Lawrie last month, it's safe to say Milwaukee has accomplished its goal.
Greinke, 27, had been one of the winter's most discussed trade candidates, with rumors picking up steam after the right-hander requested a trade earlier this weekend. Although many clubs reportedly inquired on and pursued the Royals ace, a trade was no sure thing, due to Greinke's no-trade clause and the Royals' high asking price. However, neither issue ultimately proved to be an obstacle for the Brewers, who had made repeated attempts to acquire the righty despite being on his no-trade list, according to Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Twitter links).
During his time in Kansas City, Greinke posted a 3.82 ERA in 1108 innings, including a 3.25 ERA and 8.4 K/9 over the last three years. Prior to his Cy Young campaign in 2009, Greinke signed a four-year extension, meaning he'll remain under Milwaukee's control for two more seasons, at a cost of $13.5MM per year.
Escobar, who turned 24 earlier this week, was viewed by Baseball America as the Brewers' top prospect heading into the 2010 season, his first full year in the bigs. Although he struggled at the plate, hitting .235/.288/.326 in 552 plate appearances, Escobar provided above-average defense at shortstop, according to UZR. Baseball America's scouting report prior to the season dubbed Escobar a "defensive whiz" and a "special defender," while also citing a hope that he'd develop into a solid leadoff option. The 24-year-old's minor league numbers (.293/.333/.377, 176 SB) indicate that his offensive game should continue to improve at the major league level.
Cain, 24, was considered one of the Brewers' top 10 prospects even before a hugely successful 2010 campaign. After hitting .317/.402/.432 across two minor league levels, Cain received his first shot at the bigs, and posted a .306/.348/.415 slash line in 148 plate appearances in Milwaukee. Like Escobar, Cain's primary strengths are his speed and athleticism. Baseball America suggested before the 2010 season that he "could be a more prolific and successful basestealer," and Cain responded by stealing 33 bases in 37 attempts between the minors and majors. According to Baseball America, the former 17th-round pick shows "flashes of power but is mostly a gap hitter."
Both pitching prospects heading to Kansas City are former first round picks; the Brewers selected Jeffress with the 16th overall pick in the 2006 draft, while Odorizzi was taken 32nd overall in 2008. Jeffress' path to the bigs has been sidetracked by repeated suspensions for substance abuse. His most recent violation resulted in a 100-game ban that saw him miss significant chunks of the 2009 and 2010 seasons. Jeffress' fastball has touched 100 mph and Baseball America raved that he had "as much sheer talent" as any player in the Brewers' system heading into this season, but his off-field issues and control problems (5.5 BB/9 in his minor league career) had slowed his development.
Odorizzi, meanwhile, was rated by some teams as the best high school pitcher in the 2008 draft, according to Baseball America. Just 20 years old, Odorizzi is the only player in the deal who has yet to see major league action, but he turned in an impressive year at Class A Wisconsin, recording a 3.43 ERA and 10.1 K/9 in 120 2/3 innings. ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick notes in a tweet that the two right-handers were ranked first (Odorizzi) and third (Jeffress) in Milwaukee's system in Baseball America's upcoming Prospect Handbook.
The Brewers had long indicated a desire to shore up a starting rotation whose 4.65 ERA ranked near the bottom of the National League in 2010. Moving a handful of young players in two trades, while hanging on to Prince Fielder, suggests that the club feels they can immediately contend in the NL Central.
Credit Jim Breen of Bernie's Crew with the scoop last night, with an assist to Andrew Wagner of OnMilwaukee.com. ESPN's Buster Olney confirmed the story this morning, while Kevin Goldstein from Baseball Prospectus cleared up some conflicting reports and confirmed that Jeffress would indeed be included in the deal (via Twitter).
MLBTR's Luke Adams and Steve Adams contributed to this post.