Jesus Flores Rumors

Stark On B.J. Upton, Boras, Dodgers

The latest from ESPN's Jayson Stark

  • The Rays are not likely to trade B.J. Upton this summer, though the Nationals have been monitoring the center fielder just in case.  Though the Rays feel they have a long-term need for catching, they're not enticed by the Nats' dangling of Jesus Flores and Ivan Rodriguez.
  • Scott Boras is the biggest culprit in trying to steal clients, says one agent.  However, the practice is legal if Boras reports all contact made with others' clients to the Players Association.  Last year Boras' free agent group looked weak before he snagged Jayson Werth and Rafael Soriano a few months before the offseason began.  This time, Boras won't be swiping Jose Reyes from Peter Greenberg, but he does have Prince Fielder, Carlos Beltran, Ryan Madson, and anyone else he manages to bring aboard.
  • Realignment is unlikely to happen for 2012, since the schedule needs to be finalized by September.  Stark also explains that realignment may depend on the decision to expand the postseason.
  • The Dodgers are telling teams they're weeks away from deciding whether to be deadline sellers.  If they do sell, it won't be because of money issues.  Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports agrees, saying MLB-appointed monitor Tom Schieffer would intercede if the team tries to make a move that's not in its best long-term interests.

Stark On Millwood, Nationals, Fuld

ESPN.com's Jayson Stark breaks down the possible implications of expanded playoffs before providing some rumblings from around the league. Here they are:

  • Even though Kevin Millwood has won both of his minor league starts and posted a 1.29 ERA, scouts say he doesn’t look very good. Millwood, whose fastball is averaging 85 mph, can opt out of his contact with the Yankees this Sunday.
  • Rival teams are eyeing the Nationals’ catching depth, but they’re finding that after missing two seasons with labrum surgery, Jesus Flores isn’t ready.
  • Sam Fuld has become an important piece for the Rays, but the Cubs expected to move him last offseason, according to Stark. Fuld had a history of getting injured, was behind Kosuke Fukudome and Tyler Colvin on the depth chart and was out of options and when the Cubs sent him to the Rays.

Astros Tempering Pursuit Of Nationals’ Flores

The Astros are cooling their pursuit of a potential trade for Nationals catcher Jesus Flores, writes Bill Ladson of MLB.com.

Reports of Houston's interest in obtaining Flores surfaced on Monday, but the interest is waning because of concerns over Flores' surgically repaired right shoulder. The Astros were looking at Flores as a project and were not interested in surrendering a lot to get him, according to Ladson.

The Astros are a bit thin at backstop between J.R. TowlesHumberto Quintero and Brian Esposito, while the Nationals are considered pretty deep at the position with Ivan Rodriguez, Wilson Ramos and prospect Derek Norris.

Flores, whom the Nats acquired from the Mets in 2006 as a Rule 5 Draft selection, has missed the majority of the past two seasons due to right shoulder ailments, but he was becoming a solid everyday catcher with Washington prior to the injury.



Astros Interested In Jesus Flores

The Astros are looking at the Nationals' Jesus Flores as a possible replacement for Jason Castro, reports Ben Goessling of MASNsports.com.  The two teams face off today, so hopefully the Nationals will get Flores into the game for the Astros scouts on hand.  The Astros are concerned about the condition of Flores' shoulder, according to MLB.com's Bill Ladson.

Flores, 26, was signed by the Mets out of Venezuela nine years ago.  Coming off a solid age 21 season in Low-A ball, Nationals GM Jim Bowden took Flores in the 2006 Rule 5 draft.  Flores served his time in the Majors in '07 as Brian Schneider's backup, and by June of '08 he'd won the team's starting catcher job.  In May of '09, a foul tip off the bat of Chris Young set in motion a major shoulder problem.  The injury went from being labeled a bruise to a stress fracture to a torn labrum, resulting in September '09 surgery.

During Flores' long recovery, the Nationals signed Ivan Rodriguez, traded for Wilson Ramos, and saw major development from prospect Derek Norris.  Now expendable for Washington, Flores is a great fit for an Astros club that can give him consistent at-bats with Castro out for the season with a torn ACL.


The Astros’ Catching Options

Jason Castro's 2011 season came to a quick end when the news broke that Castro had suffered a torn ACL in his right knee.  The injury leaves the Astros with Humberto Quintero and J.R. Towles as their top internal options behind the plate, and it's possible that Houston is content to stick with this duo.  Quintero is a solid defender, if nothing else, and Towles is just a couple of years removed from being considered a top prospect himself, so the Astros might be willing to give Towles one last chance to prove himself at the Major League level.

As with any notable injury, however, the hot stove is already heating up with speculation about who Houston could pursue if the team looked outside its organization.  Brian McTaggart of MLB.com and David Golebiewski of Fangraphs have both already chimed in on the situation, so let's take a look at their possible candidates…

  • Ryan Doumit.  Pittsburgh is known to be shopping the veteran, and willing to eat some of his $5.1MM salary for the right talent in return.  MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch, however, wonders if the Astros would really give up anything of value for just one year of Doumit.
  • A.J. Ellis.  He isn't exactly a proven veteran, but Ellis could be available.  Ellis and Dioner Navarro are battling to be Rod Barajas' backup in Los Angeles.
  • Jesus Flores.  The Nationals could be the most fitting trade partner here, given the number of catchers on their roster.  Flores has looked healthy in Spring Training and could probably be obtained at a low cost.
  • Tyler Flowers.  His future with the White Sox suddenly became blurry following a mediocre 2010 season in Triple-A and A.J. Pierzynski's new two-year contract with the club.  Flowers is just 25, however, and was ranked by Baseball America as the 60th-best prospect in the game heading into last season.  It's very unlikely that Chicago has already given up on Flowers.
  • Bengie Molina.  Unlike these other players, Molina is a free agent, and would cost Houston nothing but money.  We heard last month that Molina was on the fence about returning next season since he couldn't find a team that would offer him regular playing time.
  • Brian Schneider.  McTaggart observes that Ed Wade and Ruben Amaro Jr. have collaborated before, most notably on the deal that sent Roy Oswalt to Philadelphia last summer.  Schneider and Carlos Ruiz make a nice lefty-righty platoon, however, and it's unlikely the Philles would want to break that combination up. 
  • Kelly ShoppachJohn Jaso is pencilled into the starting job in Tampa Bay, so the Rays could listen to offers for their veteran backup, who makes $3MM in 2011.

McTaggart also notes the Yankees' minor league depth at catcher, but says they're an unlikely trade partner since the Astros would be looking for a Major League-ready catcher.  Besides, New York is dealing with their own injury problems behind the plate, as Francisco Cervelli will be sidelined with a broken foot.


Nationals Could Deal A Catcher

The Nationals are loaded with quality catchers and most likely will trade one of them for pitching, writes Bill Ladson of MLB.com.  With Ivan Rodriguez, Jesus Flores, Wilson Ramos, and Derek Norris in the fold, Ladson writes that one of the backstops could be moved prior to Opening Day.

Now fully recovered from right shoulder surgery, the leading candidate to be traded could be Flores, who has been seen throwing the ball hard to second and third base.  The injury cost the 26-year-old most of the 2010 season as he appeared in just 26 games.

The veteran Rodriguez will be the club's starting catcher to start the year while Ramos is being groomed as his heir apparent. Norris, 22, will probably start the season in the minors and is said to already possess a big league bat.


Quick Hits: Ohlendorf, Izzy, Edmonds, Flores

On this day in 2006, Frank Thomas officially parted ways with the White Sox, signing a free agent contract with the Athletics.  The Big Hurt left Chicago after suffering through two injury-plagued years, a dispute with GM Kenny Williams and virtually no role in the team's run to the 2005 World Series title.  Thomas had a huge bounce-back year with the A's, posting a .926 OPS to help lead Oakland to the ALCS.

Some news to wrap up a busy Monday night…

  • Both Ross Ohlendorf and the Pirates would prefer to avoid an arbitration hearing, but "each party [is] hesitant to budge too much" from the $625K gap in proposed salaries, writes MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch.  The Bucs don't want Ohlendorf's price driven up for future arb years, though Ohlendorf is only asking for $2.025MM in 2011.  As the Arbtracker tells us, Ohlendorf is Pittsburgh's last remaining arbitration-eligible player without a contract.
  • Jason Isringhausen had a throwing session for Reds pitching coach Bryan Price today and "threw the ball fine," Price told MLB.com's Mark Sheldon.  Cincinnati GM Walt Jocketty was non-committal about the chances of Isringhausen rejoining the Reds organization on a minor league deal.  "We're not sure if we will pursue it or not," Jocketty said.  "We'll discuss it in the next few days. We have quite a bit of right-handed pitching."
  • Jim Edmonds' agent tells Jon Heyman of SI.com (Twitter link) that Edmonds will "probably" know by early next week if he'll retire or try to come back in 2011.  Walt Jocketty recently opined that Edmonds would retire. 
  • If Jesus Flores proves he's healthy during Spring Training, MLB.com's Bill Ladson thinks the Nationals might try to trade him to a catcher-needy team.
  • The Orioles had no shortage of needs this offseason, but Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun points out that the O's have "at least theoretically, filled each of the roster's gaping holes that loomed in October."
  • The Twins and Royals both appear to be finished their winter additions.  MLB.com's Kelly Thesier says Minnesota is out of payroll space, and Dayton Moore tells Terez A. Paylor of the Kansas City Star that the Royals are done shopping "unless something comes up that we’re not expecting."  Moore wouldn't comment on rumors that K.C. is looking at Kevin Millwood.

Players To Avoid Arbitration: Tuesday

Noon ET today was the deadline for both the team and player to submit their salary figures for arbitration, however the two sides can come to an agreement at any point before the actual hearing. The hearings are scheduled for the first week of February.

We'll keep track of the players who avoid arbitration today by agreeing to deals here. Make sure you check back in for updates, and be sure to click the "Continue Reading" link to see today's full list of settlements.  Yesterday's list can be found here.

  • Kevin Baxter of the Los Angeles Times reports that the Angels avoided arbitration with Mike Napoli and Reggie Willits by signing the duo to one-year deals.  Napoli will earn $3.6MM in 2010 with a $100K bonus if he makes 120 starts.  Willits' contract is worth $625K. 
  • Zach Duke's one-year contract with Pittsburgh is worth $4.3MM with no performance bonuses, tweets Dejan Kovacevic of The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
  • The Padres and reliever Mike Adams have agreed to a contract, reports MLB.com's Corey Brock (via Twitter).  Brock's follow-up tweet says Adams' deal is worth $1MM, virtually splitting the difference between San Diego's $875K offer and Adams' $1.2MM demands.
  • Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star Tribune tweets that the Twins have agreements in place with all eight of their arbitration eligible players.  In a follow-up tweet, Christensen reports that Francisco Liriano agreed to a one-year deal worth $1.6MM and Jesse Crain agreed to a one-year contract worth $2MM.
  • Marc Carig of the New Jersey Star-Ledger reports that the Mets avoided arbitration with reliever Sean Green (via Twitter).  The one-year deal was worth $975K, according to the New York Daily News' Anthony McCarron.
  • The Tigers avoided arb with Gerald Laird and Zach Miner as well according to James Jahnke of The Detroit Free Press.  MLB.com's Jason Beck tweets the details on the one-year contracts: Laird will earn $3.95MM, Miner will earn $950K.
  • Christensen tweets that the Twins avoided arb with Brendan Harris, signing him to a two year deal worth $3.2MM with another $650K in possible incentives.
  • The Tigers and Bobby Seay avoided arbitration according to MLB.com's Jason Beck (via Twitter), agreeing to a one year deal worth $2.475MM.
  • Thesier tweets that Matt Guerrier agreed to a one year deal worth $3.15MM with the Twins, avoiding arb.
  • Amalie Benjamin of The Boston Globe tweets that the Red Sox have avoided arbitration with Ramon Ramirez and Manny Delcarmen, with Delcarmen getting $905K plus incentives according to Joe McDonald of The Providence Journal. Boston avoided arb with Jonathan Papelbon as well.

(more…)


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Nationals Notes: MacDougal, Dukes, Flores

Let's take a look at some Nationals tidbits courtesy of the latest mailbag from MLB.com's Bill Ladson and Phil Wood of MASNsports.com:

  • Mike MacDougal is currently the favorite to be the Nats' closer in 2010.  In 52 appearances last season, the 32-year-old posted an ERA of 3.60 but had as many walks as he did strikeouts.  However, the club could be looking to upgrade as Ladson hears that they are interested in acquiring free agent reliever Mike Gonzalez.  If they ink Gonzalez, Ladson sees the two men sharing the closer role.
  • Don't expect Washington to make a move for free agent right fielder Jermaine Dye, as Elijah Dukes will be allowed to showcase his potential as the starter.
  • The Nationals are not content with Wil Nieves as their starting catcher as they await a clean bill of health for Jesus Flores.  Instead, they would like to get a catcher who can play every day in the event that Flores is not ready for Spring Training or Opening Day.
  • Wood writes that while it is something of a long shot, the Nationals have the cash available this offseason to sign Rich Harden.  While the 27-year-old wouldn't come cheap, he will not require the forfeiture of a draft pick as he is a Type B free agent.

Mike Rizzo Chat At The Washington Post

Chico Harlan of the Washington Post chatted with Nationals GM Mike Rizzo, and posted the full Q&A on his blog.  A few hot stove highlights:

  • Starter Scott Olsen had surgery in July to repair a small labrum tear in his pitching shoulder.  Having earned $2.8MM this year, the Nats would have to pay him at least $2.24MM in 2010 if they tender him a contract.  Rizzo said he's getting health reports on Olsen daily and the team will use the coming months to decide whether to non-tender him.
  • Rizzo says closer Mike MacDougal has "done a great job."  MacDougal represents another of the Nationals' many arbitration cases; he could earn $3MM+ in 2010.
  • The Nationals consider Jesus Flores (shoulder surgery) the everyday catcher in 2010, but still may bring in another backstop for insurance.
  • Rizzo seems satisfied with Elijah Dukes as the regular right fielder.