Jesus Montero Rumors

MLB Preparing To Suspend At Least 20 Players In Biogenesis Scandal

9:46pm: Besides Braun and Rodriguez, "other major, major names" are also involved in the Biogenesis case, a source tells Bob Klapsich of the Bergen Record (Twitter link).

6:56pm: Major League Baseball is planning to suspend at least 20 players connected to Biogenesis, the Miami clinic under investigation for supplying performance-enhancing drugs, reports T.J. Quinn, Pedro Gomez and Mike Fish of ESPN's Outside The Lines.  Biogenesis founder Tony Bosch has agreed to cooperate with the investigation and begin naming players, with suspensions possibly following within two weeks.

The list of possible suspensions includes Alex Rodriguez, Ryan Braun, Melky Cabrera, Nelson Cruz, Bartolo Colon, Yasmani Grandal, Francisco Cervelli, Jesus Montero, Jhonny Peralta, Cesar Puello, Fernando Martinez, Everth Cabrera, Fautino de los Santos and Jordan Norberto, plus others who are named in documents that the ESPN team haven't had access to, or are known under code names.

MLB officials have also investigated a possible connection between Biogenesis and Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano, as the spokeswoman for Cano's foundation (Sonia Cruz) has had her name appear in some clinic documents.  Nationals southpaw Gio Gonzalez isn't expected to face suspension for his connection to Biogenesis since the products he obtained from the clinic weren't banned.

The league could look for a 100-game suspension (the penalty for second-time PED offenders) for Rodriguez, Braun and other first-time offenders since both the connection to Biogenesis and previous denials to MLB officials would serve as seperate offenses.  It is unknown how MLB would deal with players like Cabrera or Colon who already have PED suspensions on their record, though these players probably wouldn't face a lifetime ban as three-time offenders — their prior suspensions would likely count as their so-called "first strike," with this next violation putting them in line for 100-game suspensions as well.

Quinn/Gomez/Fish report that, as expected, the accused players will challenge any possible suspensions and it could be difficult for the league to obtain corroborating evidence in the appeals process beyond Bosch's testimony.


Quick Hits: Wacha, Kawasaki, Mariners, Gomez

The Cardinals will need another starter on Thursday to replace John Gast, and that could be Michael Wacha, Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch suggests. Wacha, who would be making his big-league debut, was scratched from his start Sunday, which the Cardinals now say is due to his innings count so far this year. Wacha ranked No. 76 in both MLB.com's and Baseball America's preseason top prospects lists, and he has pitched well so far in 2013 at Triple-A Memphis (albeit with a low strikeout rate), posting a 2.05 ERA with 5.8 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9. Cards GM John Mozeliak says that the team will likely decide on Tuesday who will make Thursday's start. Here are more notes from around the majors.

  • It's unclear what will happen to infielder Munenori Kawasaki of the Blue Jays once Jose Reyes returns, but Jays manager John Gibbons would like Kawasaki to stick around, Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com reports. "When the time comes, we'd definitely like to keep him, that's for sure. But we don't know when Reyes is coming back, either." Kawasaki has become a fan favorite, and he has played decently, hitting .247/.345/.320. But Chisholm notes that the Jays already have Maicer Izturis, Emilio Bonifacio and Mark DeRosa.
  • It's a bad day for the Mariners' rebuilding efforts, Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times writes. The Mariners promoted prospect Nick Franklin but demoted former No. 2 overall draft pick Dustin Ackley in the process. That move followed the demotion of Jesus Montero. Justin Smoak and Michael Saunders haven't hit particularly well, and Brandon Maurer has struggled. "Right now, the Mariners are being carried by a bunch of veterans on one-year deals who were supposed to be here to round out that young core and help stabilize the environment through which young guys were going to take their games to the next level," says Baker, noting that Kyle Seager is the only starting player who has accomplished that.
  • Ron Gardenhire feels Carlos Gomez of the Brewers "learned a lot" from his time with the Twins, MLB.com's Adam McCalvy reports. Gomez played with the Twins for two years before heading to Milwaukee in exchange for J.J. Hardy after the 2009 season. The Twins tried to help Gomez calm down as a player, McCalvy writes. "I thought he learned a lot with us," Gardenhire says. "Gomez was a lot of fun. I think everybody knew it from the time he was with the Mets, how much talent he had, if he could ever harness it and calm himself down enough."
  • It's questionable whether the Angels and Dodgers have spent their money well, but it's important that they're spending, says Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times. "You can't win on scouting and player development alone. That is a foundation, with free agency a necessary supplement. Spending does not guarantee winning, but spending absolutely correlates with winning," says Shaikin. Still, Shaikin notes that the Angels' core of homegrown players includes Mike Trout, Jered Weaver, and Howie Kendrick; the Dodgers' includes Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw. Shaikin quotes Dodgers president Stan Kasten, who reiterates that his team's long-term plan is to build through its farm system, just as the Braves did when Kasten worked there.
  • The Cubs aren't quite ready to declare themselves sellers, but it sounds like they're getting there, ESPN Chicago's Jesse Rogers reports. GM Jed Hoyer says that teams begin to assess their trading options "50-60 games within the deadline." Hoyer adds, "You always hold out hope you can string things together and make a run. It’s really hard in this division, I’ll say that. You have three teams playing really well." In a recent poll, MLBTR readers thought the Cubs' Matt Garza and Alfonso Soriano were among the players most likely to be traded.

Quick Hits: Angels, Montero, Gomes, Dodgers

Miguel Cabrera might have been hitting home runs in Anaheim if the Angels had been able to swing a deal for him in 2007, Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reports. The Marlins had Cabrera on the trade market, and the Angels offered Howie Kendrick, Jeff Mathis and either Ervin Santana or Nick Adenhart. But the Marlins wanted both Santana and Adenhart, and the Angels changed their minds about dealing Kendrick, and the trade fell through. Had the deal worked out, Shaikin says, Cabrera could have joined with fellow 2012 MVP candidate Mike Trout in the Angels' lineup. (Of course, Trout was acquired with the No. 25 pick in the 2009 Draft, which was a compensation pick for losing Mark Teixeira. If the Angels had acquired Cabrera, they might not have acquired Teixeira, which means it's possible they wouldn't have drafted Trout. They also would have had to sign Cabrera to a long-term deal, the way the Tigers did. Reimagining history can be complicated.)

The Marlins' side of the deal would have worked out a bit better, too. We'll never know what might have been with Adenhart, who died in an accident in 2009, and Mathis hasn't hit well. But Kendrick turned out to be a better player than any the Marlins got when they sent Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis to the Tigers for a package centered around Andrew Miller and Cameron Maybin.

Here are more notes from around MLB.

  • After Jesus Montero's demotion, his role in the Mariners' future is unclear, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports writes. Mike Zunino now appears to be the Mariners' future catcher, and Montero will work on playing first base at Triple-A Tacoma. If Montero will play predominantly first base and designated hitter going forward, that puts him in an awkward position, because one of the reasons he was sent down in the first place was that his hitting wasn't particularly good even for a catcher. Still, the door remains open to Montero, Morosi notes, since Mariners first baseman Justin Smoak has not hit well, and main DH Kendrys Morales will be a free agent at the end of the season.
  • Yan Gomes' play so far is creating a "pleasant problem" for the Indians, Sheldon Ocker of the Akron Beacon-Journal writes. Gomes, who arrived in Cleveland with Mike Aviles when the Indians sent Esmil Rogers to the Blue Jays last offseason, is hitting .311/.328/.672 with five home runs in 61 at bats so far. His performance suggests he might be able to one day become an everyday catcher, not just a utility player who catches occasionally, Ocker writes. Carlos Santana is, of course, the Indians' starting catcher, but if Gomes keeps hitting, the Indians will have to find a way to get him more playing time.
  • The Dodgers were criticized for absorbing hundreds of millions of dollars in salary (and giving up five players, including prospects Allen Webster and Rubby De La Rosa) when they acquired Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett and Nick Punto from the Red Sox last August. But, MLB.com's Lyle Spencer tweets, Gonzalez, Crawford and Punto have been the Dodgers' three best position players this year. Of course, that says more about the Dodgers' offense than anything else — the Dodgers are scoring just 3.39 runs per game, second-to-last in the National League.


Quick Hits: Beltran, D’Backs, Montero, Draft, Cashner

Epifanio "Epi" Guerrero, one of the key figures in the history of Dominican baseball, passed today at age 71.  Guerrero signed a number of notable international talents (including Cesar Cedeno, Carlos Delgado and Tony Fernandez) while working in the Astros, Yankees, Blue Jays and Brewers organizations as a scout and coach during a career that began in 1965.  Guerrero was one of the first scouts to be involved in the development of the academy system that gave countless young Dominican prospects chances at a professional career.  We here at MLBTR extend our condolences to Guerrero's friends and family on his passing.

Here are some news items from around the baseball world…

  • While it has been assumed that the Cardinals will part ways with Carlos Beltran after this season, Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch thinks both Beltran and the Cardinals could benefit from Beltran re-signing a short-term contract, provided the veteran was willing to take a hometown discount.  While Miklasz has a point that Beltran is a surer thing to produce for a contender than youngsters like Oscar Taveras or Matt Adams, I would be surprised if Beltran returned to St. Louis in 2014.  If the Cards were confident enough in their young talent to let Albert Pujols and Kyle Lohse go, they'll do with the same with Beltran.
  • The Diamondbacks may not need to make any major moves before the trade deadline, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal writes.  The Snakes have depth at several positions and further reinforcements are coming as some injured players return from the disabled list.  The only possible area of need could be at closer given J.J. Putz's elbow problems but GM Kevin Towers is "100% confident" that Putz will recover.
  • The Mariners talked with Jesus Montero about a long-term contract before he was linked to the Biogenesis scandal, but nothing came of those conversations, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports tweets.  Earlier today, the M's demoted the 23-year-old to Triple-A.
  • If MLB announces that an international draft will take place in 2014, Baseball America's Ben Badler notes that teams like the Rangers, Yankees, Cardinals or Reds (who are likely to pick near the end of that draft's first round) could be wise to exceed the spending cap on international prospects this year.  Such teams would lose their 2014 or '15 international draft first-rounder for going over the cap, but it could be worth it to get a jump on the non-American/Canadian talent market.
  • MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo profiles some of the top corner infielders in the upcoming amateur draft, a list led by University of San Diego third baseman Kris Bryant.
  • ESPN's Keith Law discusses draft prospects, minor leaguers and other moves from around the game in a live chat with fans.
  • Andrew Cashner is making great strides as a starting pitcher for the Padres, MLB.com's Corey Brock writes.  Cashner has a 2.80 ERA in six starts for the Friars in 2013 after being limited to mostly bullpen work over his first three seasons due to injuries and concerns about his arm strength.  If Cashner develops into a solid starter, it will obviously give the Padres a much greater return on the Anthony Rizzo trade from January 2012.
  • The Rays' pitching depth is the envy of baseball, MLB.com's Bill Chastain writes, and that depth at the Major League level gives all their minor league arms time to properly develop into the club's next generation of rotation stalwarts.

MLBTR's Zach Links contributed to this post


Mariners To Demote Jesus Montero

Mariners catcher Jesus Montero will be sent to Triple-A Tacoma today, reports Ryan Divish of The News Tribune.  Catcher Jesus Sucre will be selected to join the big league club, and it appears Montero won't do much catching at Triple-A.

It was a blockbuster challenge trade of two extremely promising and valuable young players. Montero had 18 excellent big league games for the Yankees under his belt when he was sent to the Mariners in January 2012.  The principal player coming to New York in the deal was soon-to-be 23-year-old righty Michael Pineda, who had averaged nearly 95 miles per hour on his fastball as a rookie, made the All-Star team, and finished fifth in the Rookie of the Year voting.  Young players of this caliber are rarely traded.  Things went south quickly for Pineda, as decreased velocity in his second Spring Training start was a harbinger of a shoulder injury that would lead to surgery in May 2012.  What's more, Pineda was arrested for a DUI in August of that year.  Pineda continues to work his way back from the surgery, with the expectation of making his Yankee debut this year.  Whether Pineda's rookie campaign was the high point in his career is anybody's guess.

Montero's first full season in 2012 was disappointing.  Known almost entirely for his offensive prowess, he posted a .260/.298/.386 line in 553 plate appearances.  Montero caught in 56 games, serving as DH in 78.  In a full-time catching role this year, he did even less with the bat.  As "a man without a position," as Divish puts it, the bar for Montero to become a regular designated hitter in the Majors is quite high.  Oh, and the reported connection to Biogenesis doesn't help.

There were a couple of additional players in the Montero-Pineda swap.  The Mariners acquired righty Hector Noesi, who hasn't impressed in 120 1/3 big league innings so far.  The Yankees added prospect Jose Campos, rated their fifth-best by Baseball America prior to the season.  Campos made only five starts last year in low A ball, missing most of the season due to a bone bruise or a small fracture in his elbow.  The injury has Campos on an innings limit in the 85-90 range this year.

One year and four months after the exciting Montero-Pineda swap, the players involved in the trade are a mess across the board, which leads to today's poll: which pair of players do you prefer moving forward? 



Quick Hits: AL Rookies, Nationals, Indians, Valentine

On this day in baseball history in 1941, Joe DiMaggio won his second American League MVP award. The runner-up was Ted Williams, who had batted .406 on the season and lost the award thanks to a writer who left him off the ballot. Here's the latest news and headlines from around the league…

  • The American League, more specifically the AL West, served as home this season to a talented crop of rookies beyond just Mike Trout, writes Paul Hagen of MLB.com. Hagen points to Yoenis CespedesJesus Montero and Yu Darvish as players who have strong cases that would easily win AL Rookie of the Year any other year, but Trout's not only a finalist for being the top rookie as he looks to take home league MVP as well.
  • While the Nationals failed to collect the hardware that comes with winning the World Series, the team's manager, top rookie and ace look to make up for it this week as the BBWAA award winners are announced, says Amanda Comak of The Washington Times. Strangely enough, Washington manager Davey Johnson was fired the same day he last won a Manager of the Year award thanks to a contract dispute with the Orioles back in 1997.
  • Count the Indians among the teams interested in pursuing Jason Bay's services, writes Paul Hoynes of The Plain Dealer in his latest mailbag. Beyond Bay, Hoynes suggests the team could be in play for Melky Cabrera as the pressure-free environment in Cleveland could help him rebound next season.
  • Bobby Valentine's future may not take shape in a dugout, but Peter Gammons of MLB.com believes the veteran manager would be an asset to Major League Baseball by working for commissioner Bud Selig.

AL West Notes: Angels, Soto, Montero, Athletics

The A's picked up a 12-4 win in Detroit today to move 3.5 games behind Texas for first place in the AL West, a deficit that could be further cut to three games should the Rangers lose to the Angels tonight.  The A's and Rangers still have seven games remaining against each other, so the division race may not be decided until the very last day of the season.  Here's some news from around the AL West…

  • Angels chairman Dennis Kuhl denied reports that the team is negotiating with the City of Industry about a new ballpark, reports Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times.  The Los Angeles Daily News reported that the Angels had been in "preliminary talks" with Industry officials about moving the team after the 2016 season, when the Angels can opt out of their lease at Angel Stadium.  In addition to Kuhl, officials from Industry and the proposed building site also denied the report.
  • Rangers assistant GM Thad Levine told Bryan Dolgin of ESPNDallas.com that he has been impressed by the "seamless transition" catcher Geovany Soto made after Texas acquired him from the Cubs midseason. Soto is a non-tender candidate heading into the 2012-13 offseason.
  • Could the Mariners trade Jesus MonteroDave Cameron of the U.S.S. Mariner blog thinks the M's should consider the possibility, given that the team has John Jaso and Mike Zunino at catcher and Montero's bat projects as a long-term project, according to Cameron's metrics.
  • Remarkably, Athletics starters Dan Straily and A.J. Griffin were selling running shoes around this time last year, Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports reports. The rookie pitchers have helped their team to an 85-64 record and excellent playoff position.

MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith contributed to this post


Mariners, Yankees Swap Pineda For Montero

The Mariners needed hitting, the Yankees needed pitching.  The two teams addressed each other's needs in a blockbuster trade of young stars, as right-handers Michael Pineda and Jose Campos will go to the Bronx in exchange for catcher/DH Jesus Montero and righty Hector Noesi.  Both teams confirmed the trade this afternoon.

Pineda

The Yankees re-signed C.C. Sabathia and Freddy Garcia this winter, but those moves amounted to just standing pat with a rotation that (after Sabathia) contained several question marks.  In Pineda, however, the Yankees now have one of the top young arms in the game and one who has already showed he can perform at the Major League level.  Pineda (pictured) posted a 3.74 ERA, a 3.15 K/BB ratio and a 9.1 K/9 rate in 28 starts last season, earning an All-Star appearance and a fifth-place finish in the AL Rookie Of The Year vote.  Pineda recently turned 23 and is under club control through 2016.

Campos, 19, is another intriguing young arm.  John Sickels of Minor League Ball ranked Campos as the fifth-best prospect in Seattle's system going into 2012, noting that while Campos' secondary pitches need some polish, "his upside is very high, he throws hard, and already throws strikes."  Campos is coming off a dominant campaign in low Class-A ball in 2011, posting a 2.32 ERA and a whopping 6.54 K/BB in 14 starts.  Joel Sherman of the New York Post hears from an NL executive that if Campos was in this year's amateur draft, "he is [a] no-doubt top-10 pick" (Twitter link).

Montero was a top-four prospect in both 2010 and 2011 according to Baseball America and the 22-year-old showed why when he posted a .996 OPS in 69 September plate appearances.  Montero was drafted as a catcher but questions about his defensive capabilities had several pundits projecting his long-term future to be at designated hitter or first base.  In New York, these spots will be blocked by Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez for the next several seasons, but the bat-starved Mariners have plenty of room in the lineup.  Montero immediately projects as Seattle's probable #3 hitter, splitting time between DH and catcher, and it's easy to see Montero hitting behind Dustin Ackley for years to come.

Montero was very nearly a Mariner in July 2010, as he headlined a prospect package the Yankees were ready to send to Seattle for Cliff Lee.  The M's, however, pulled out of that trade and ended up dealing Lee to the Rangers.  Yankees management was reportedly upset that the Mariners pulled out of the deal at the last minute, but whatever hard feelings existed between the two clubs clearly weren't enough to keep them from doing business 18 months later.

Noesi appeared in 30 games for New York last season (two of them starts), posting a 4.47 ERA and a 2.05 K/BB ratio.  Noesi turns 25 later this month and amassed impressive numbers over six seasons in the Yankee farm system.  Noesi should get a shot at filling Pineda's rotation spot in Seattle and could blossom at pitcher-friendly Safeco Field. 

Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com was the first to announce the trade as official, with MLB.com's Greg Johns adding Campos and Noesi's involvement.  ESPN's Jerry Crasnick first heard of a "significant trade" involving a "young impact hitter" coming to the Mariners earlier today, and Larry Stone of the Seattle Times was the first to cite Pineda and Montero in the deal, as he had heard "rumblings in that direction."

Photo courtesy of Icon SMI.


AL East Links: Red Sox, Scutaro, Mortensen, Montero

The Red Sox sent Marco Scutaro to the Rockies for Clayton Mortensen and avoided arbitration with Daniel Bard earlier this evening, but now let's round up the latest from the AL East…

  • The Scutaro trade freed up approximately $6MM for the Red Sox to use on an "aggressive bid" for a starting pitcher, says ESPN's Jerry Crasnick (Twitter links). Michael Silverman of The Boston Herald confirmed that the trade was made trade strictly for salary relief. Earlier tonight we learned that the Sox have intensified their pursuit of Roy Oswalt.
  • The Red Sox are comfortable with a Nick Punto/Mike Aviles platoon replacing Scutaro, but WEEI.com's Alex Speier hears they will continue to pursue an upgrade at any position, not just shortstop.
  • Brian MacPherson of The Providence Journal confirmed that Mortensen does have a minor league option remaining, so the Red Sox can send him to Triple-A if they choose (Twitter link)
  • Jesus Montero has arrived in Seattle following a visa/passport issue, reports MLB.com's Greg Johns. He underwent his physical today, but a formal announcement of the trade sending him from the Yankees to the Mariners isn't expected until Monday.
  • We posted some Orioles notes earlier today, including a quote from GM Dan Duquette about the possibility of adding Prince Fielder.

Quick Hits: Lincecum, Red Sox, Gordon, Francis

Friday night links..

  • The Giants and the agent for Tim Lincecum have made significant progress since exchanging arbitration figures and both sides are confident that a resolution can be reached before a hearing would be scheduled, writes Andrew Baggarly of the Mercury News.
  • The Reds could look to land an infielder via trade, writes MLB.com's Mark Sheldon.
  • It appears that talks between the Rockies and Red Sox regarding Marco Scutaro are dormant, but Rob Bradford of WEEI.com writes that Boston's possible motivation for a move involving Scutaro would be to free up payroll.  The club has reportedly expressed interest in White Sox starter Gavin Floyd and free agent outfielder Cody Ross, but neither move could be made unless a trade was made to offer budgetary relief according to a source.
  • The Royals and Alex Gordon aren't particularly close on a deal but talks remain cordial and both sides want to get something done, tweets Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star.
  • Left-hander Jeff Francis is starting to attract more interest from teams in the market for a starting pitcher including the Mariners, Reds, Blue Jays, and Mets, according to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com (Twitter links)
  • Jesus Montero has dealt with his visa issue and is scheduled to travel from Florida to Seattle today for his Mariners physical, tweets Ken Davidoff of Newsday.
  • Braves GM Frank Wren doesn't believe that his club has a major personnel need, writes Mark Bradley of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.  Wren also believes that this year's bullpen figures to be even deeper that last year's.
  • Joe Capozzi of The Palm Beach Post (via Twitter) is told that the Marlins have no interest in bringing Ivan Rodriguez back.