Jhonny Peralta Rumors
The latest out of the AL Central to kick off your Wednesday morning...
- Right-hander Ervin Santana offered praise for the Royals organization, its training staff and his teammates when asked by Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star if he'd be open to returning to the team next season. Santana told Dutton that his main focus is finishing the season strong, however. General manager Dayton Moore said the Royals "certainly like" Santana and will make an effort to bring him back for 2014.
- Jhonny Peralta has been told by Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski that he will not be the team's starting shortstop if he returns to the team for the postseason following his 50-game suspension, writes James Schmehl of MLive.com. If the Tigers don't bring Peralta back, they will have to make a move to remove him from the roster when his suspension is up, which likely would mean designating Peralta for assignment, Schmehl adds.
- MLB.com's Jason Beck spoke with Tigers lefty Darin Downs, who told Beck that he was in "offseason mode" when he got a surprise call from the team and was called up to the Majors. Downs had already gone home to Florida for the winter to be with his family and hadn't thrown for a week. Beck details how rare a move like this is for the Tigers in his piece.
- "I don't know that," Twins GM Terry Ryan told reporters, including Charley Walters of the St. Paul Pioneer Press, when asked who will replace Justin Morneau in 2014. "We're still looking at it, seeing how we're going to respond, seeing how our guys do." Walters adds that there's still a chance Morneau could re-sign in Minnesota.
The list of pitchers likely to receive qualifying offers this year includes Hiroki Kuroda, Ervin Santana and A.J. Burnett, Dave Cameron of Fangraphs writes. But Cameron also looks into some less obvious candidates, like Tim Lincecum of the Giants and Josh Johnson of the Blue Jays. Three pitchers (Kuroda, Rafael Soriano, and Kyle Lohse) received qualifying offers last offseason; Cameron seems to think that number should be slightly higher this winter. Here are more notes from around the big leagues.
- Jhonny Peralta, who was suspended for his role in the Biogenesis scandal, will soon be eligible to begin a rehab assignment, but the Tigers aren't sure what they'll do with him, MLB.com's Jason Beck reports. The season has ended for all the Tigers' minor-league teams, which makes the Florida instructional league, which begins September 19, the most likely possibility. The Tigers must decide by September 26 whether to place Peralta back on the active roster. They don't appear to have made that decision yet. Peralta becomes a free agent at the end of the season.
- Starter Matt Harrison had his third surgery of the season on Monday, but the Rangers have insurance on his contract, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman reports. Harrison is signed to a five-year, $55MM contract that begins this season. He's set to make $13MM annually in 2015 through 2017. The insurance on Harrison is fortunate for the Rangers, as is the fact that Harrison's latest surgery is on his non-throwing shoulder.
In some non-traditional transactional news, some Tigers fans are mourning the apparent firing of one of Comerica Park's fixtures, opera-singing hot dog vendor Charley Marcuse. More from MLB's central divisions...
- The Tigers have a decison looming with Jhonny Peralta, who will return from a 50-game suspension with three games remaining in the regular season, John Lowe of the Detroit Free Press notes. The club may not reinstate Peralta to avoid associated media scrutiny, as the infielder was suspended for his connection with the Biogenesis scandal. However, keeping him on could protect the Tigers in the case of an injury to his replacement at shortstop, Jose Iglesias, or second baseman Omar Infante.
- Though righty James McDonald has finally recovered after hitting the DL with shoulder discomfort in early May, he didn't factor into the Pirates' plans moving forward, Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports in a tweet. McDonald, 28, was designated for assignment earlier today. The former top prospect is only a year removed from a 4.21 ERA, 171-inning campaign and has just a year of arbitration under his belt, so he could draw interest if clubs believe he's healthy.
- The Cubs' Ryan Sweeney figures to get playing time this month so that the club can evaluate him, MLB.com's Carrie Muskat reports. Sweeney will be a free agent after the season. "You give him 500, 700 plate appearances that he’s never gotten before, I think you could project that to be a pretty good year," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. The 28-year-old signed a minor-league deal with the Cubs in April but missed more than two months after fracturing a rib.
As the Cubs and Brewers square off in the first of a four-game series that could have serious implications on the 2014 MLB draft (one game separates the two teams who stand to pick fourth and fifth, respectively), let's take a look at baseball's Central divisions...
- The Twins don't feel that rookie Josmil Pinto is far from being a starting catcher at the Major League level, writes Phil Miller of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. The 24-year-old Venezuelan hit .309/.400/.482 with 15 homers and an 83-to-66 K/BB ratio between Double-A and Triple-A this season and has seven hits in his first 10 big league at-bats. As Miller notes, Pinto's emergence makes Joe Mauer's future position "more unknown than ever." Twins GM Terry Ryan told Miller he "doesn't know exactly what [Mauer is] going to end up doing" in 2014. Minnesota also has 25-year-old Chris Herrmann and veteran Ryan Doumit on the roster. Herrmann and Doumit are both capable of playing the corner outfield positions.
- Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski is currently in the process of deciding whether or not to bring Jhonny Peralta back to the club for a potential postseason run, writes James Schmehl of MLive.com. Dombrowski says Peralta was forthright and handled the situation as best he could. The Tigers, of course, acquired Jose Iglesias to man shortstop in Peralta's stead and in the long-term at the trade deadline. Bringing Peralta back would likely displace one of Don Kelly, Matt Tuiasosopo or Ramon Santiago from the roster.
- Bruce Levine and Jesse Rogers of ESPNChicago.com write that Scott Baker will make his season debut for the Cubs this Sunday -- his first Major League start since Sept. 24, 2011. Baker underwent Tommy John surgery in Spring Training of 2012 with the Twins and signed a one-year, $5.5MM contract with the Cubs this offseason. Clearly, Chicago was hoping for an earlier return, but arm soreness in Spring Training of this season shut him down. Baker posted a 3.14 ERA with 8.2 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9 for Minnesota in 2011.
- New Cubs reliever Daniel Bard told MLB.com's Carrie Muskat that he was ready to hit free agency this offseason after being designated for assignment by the Red Sox and was pleasantly surprised to hear from Cubs president Theo Epstein when he was claimed. Bard doesn't feel that his struggles have resulted from switching from a relief role to a starting role, but rather from trying to change too much about his arsenal in the process: "I could’ve just taken the pitcher I was in the bullpen for four years and plopped that into a starting role and probably would’ve been fine," Bard told Muskat. Instead, he tried to increase his changeup usage, sink the ball more and change speeds on his fastball too often, and he feels that vast array of alterations was his downfall.
Join me for a quick trip around the American League's Central Division, where the Tigers seem to have finally opened an insurmountable lead over the pesky Indians.
- With the Tigers visiting Fenway for the first time since acquiring Jose Iglesias from the Red Sox, GM Dave Dombrowski left no doubt that the club views the 23-year-old Cuban as its shortstop of the future, reports Jerry Spar of WEEI.com. “He’s an outstanding defensive shortstop," said Dombrowski. "He really changes the middle of the diamond. We have a lot of good pitchers, and some of them live with the ground ball, and so his range helps us appreciably — so quick out there." While defense was never the question with Iglesias, Dombrowski says that he does enough well in the rest of the game to stick as a starter. “He’s also hit well enough. ... He does a lot of little things for us as far as bunting, he can move the ball around, he can steal a base. ... He’s going to be our shortstop for years to come.”
- Of course, as MLBTR's Charlie Wilmoth recently explained, the fate of suspended Detroit shortstop Jhonny Peralta is tied inextricably to that of Iglesias, who was acquired to replace him. Dombrowski's comments certainly seem to indicate that he views Iglesias as a better fit for the short and long term, leaving no apparent role for the free agent-to-be Peralta.
- White Sox catcher Tyler Flowers will undergo exploratory shoulder surgery and be out of commission for about three to six months, reports Dan Hayes of CSNChicago.com (via Twitter). The South Siders' catching situation will be interesting to watch over the off-season. Flowers struggled this year with persistent shoulder issues, and 25-year-old Josh Phegley has failed to impress in his first big league showcase (.211/.221/.331 in 147 plate appearances). The club did just call up 22-year-old Miguel Gonzalez, a defense-first backstop who .254/.326/.349 in 190 plate appearances at Double-A and Triple-A this year. Once a top-10 prospect, Gonzalez's star has faded with his bat over the last several seasons. Fortunately for Chicago, all of these players will be making league mnimum next year.
- The Indians will soon face a decision on Ubaldo Jimenez's $8MM mutual 2014 option, notes Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Jimenez entered the season with a 5.32 ERA for the Indians since being acquired from the Rockies at the 2011 trade deadline, but appears to have righted the ship somewhat in 2013, posting a 3.95 ERA and career-best 9.1 K/9 in 141 1/3 innings. Pluto speculates that the Indians will pick up their end of the option, but that Jimenez will decline and become a free agent. Back in March, MLBTR's Steve Adams took a look back at the deal that brought Jimenez to Cleveland, when it seemed the 2014 option would be a complete no-brainer for the Indians to exercise.
- The Royals, too, are looking ahead at starting pitching questions over the coming off-season. As Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star reports, the club figures to stay the course with its young field position players, with GM Dayton Moore explaining that the team's core of "talented young players on the field" place the club "in the beginning stages of a window where this team can win consistently for a period of time." The rotation, on the other hand, will see the surprisingly excellent Ervin Santana and veteran Bruce Chen enter free agency. Dutton says that the club's decisionmaking process on those two starting slots will depend on a variety of factors, such as the organization's view of Danny Duffy and Wade Davis and the timetable for top prospects Yordano Ventura and Kyle Zimmer. It is unlikely, according to Dutton, that the team will outbid the market on Santana. "We want him here, but it’s difficult to predict," said Moore.
Jhonny Peralta has been a member of the Tigers since the Indians dealt him to Detroit near the trade deadline in 2010. But after receiving a 50-game suspension Monday for his ties to the Biogenesis scandal, Peralta's future with the Tigers organization is in question.
Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski was vague when asked Monday about Peralta's role going forward, John Lowe of the Detroit Free Press writes. When asked whether Peralta would return to the club to play in the last few games of the regular season and in the playoffs, Dombrowski said, "That’s down the road. That’s two months. I think I’ve spoken enough about that."
The Tigers' recent acquisition of Jose Iglesias from the Red Sox would surely seem to have at least some impact on the team's plans for Peralta. Iglesias will start at shortstop in Peralta's absence, and Danny Knobler of CBS Sports hears (via Twitter) that if Iglesias performs well, Peralta's tenure with the Tigers could be over. "Early sense I get is that if Iglesias does well at shortstop, Tigers might not want Peralta back. We'll see," Knobler writes.
For 2014 and beyond, if not for the end of the 2013 season, it makes sense that Peralta's fate would be tied to Iglesias'. Peralta (who had been set to make $6MM in 2013) becomes a free agent this winter, whereas Iglesias is not eligible for free agency until after 2018. Iglesias won't even be eligible for arbitration until after the 2015 season, and while he isn't the typical zero-to-three player (he can't receive more than a 20% pay cut in 2014 on his $2.06MM 2013 salary), he'll be awfully cheap for at least two more years.
So if Iglesias performs capably down the stretch, there's no room for Peralta in Detroit, as least not as a starting shortstop. There's the possibility that the Tigers could re-sign Peralta and use him at third base, but that seems like a stretch -- Miguel Cabrera is a poor fielder there, but with Prince Fielder at first base and Victor Martinez (who's signed through 2014) at designated hitter, it will be tough for the Tigers to move him. With Omar Infante and Ramon Santiago set to become free agents, it might also be possible for the the Tigers to re-sign Peralta and use Iglesias at second base.
With Peralta about to hit free agency and with a 50-game suspension ahead of him, however, it might be jumping the gun to even consider such scenarios. Knobler's take seems fairly likely to be true -- if Iglesias doesn't perform, the Tigers might have a need for Peralta, but if Iglesias does, Peralta's future with the Tigers will become very murky. It's far from certain that Iglesias will hit, however, and Peralta, with his .305/.361/.461 performance in 2013, will likely be a sought-after free agent, even with a PED suspension on his record.
After months of speculation, we have some finality for a dozen of the players implicated in the Biogenesis scandal. Major League Baseball has officially announced 50-game suspensions for Nelson Cruz, Jhonny Peralta, Everth Cabrera, Antonio Bastardo, Jesus Montero, Francisco Cervelli, Jordany Valdespin, Fautino De Los Santos, Jordan Norberto, Cesar Puello, Fernando Martinez and Sergio Escalona.
All of those players will accept their suspensions, while Alex Rodriguez, who was suspended for 211 games (effective Aug. 8), will appeal his suspension and be eligible to play until that process is complete.
The suspensions carry particular weight for the Rangers and Tigers. The Rangers, who are 2.5 games back of the A's in the AL West and just a half-game behind the Indians for a Wild Card berth, will lose their starting right-fielder and club home run leader in Cruz for the remainder of the regular season.
The Tigers will lose Peralta, their starting shortstop, for the remainder of the season as they look to fend off surging Cleveland and Kansas City clubs and win the American League Central division. Detroit safeguarded itself somewhat against the loss of Perata by acquiring Jose Iglesias in a three-team deal with the White Sox and Red Sox prior to the trade deadline.
Bob Nightengale of USA Today was the first to tweet that Cruz would accept his suspension. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports first tweeted that Peralta, Cabrera, Bastardo and Valdespin would also accept 50-game bans. Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports added Escalona to the list (Twitter link), and Rosenthal reported that Cervelli, Montero, Puello, De Los Santos, Martinez and Norberto would do the same (on Twitter).
Alex Rodriguez and 12 other players will be suspended for their involvement with Biogenesis, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Earlier today, we learned Rodriguez is to be suspended through the 2014 season and Heyman names Tigers shortstop Jhonny Peralta, Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz, Mariners catcher Jesus Montero, Padres shortstop Everth Cabrera, and Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli among the Major League players also expected to be suspended, as well as minor leaguers Fernando Martinez, Jordan Norberto, Fautino de los Santos, and Cesar Puello. Heyman adds there are also three players on the suspension list whose names have yet to become public.
Heyman writes Blue Jays outfielder Melky Cabrera, A's right-hander Bartolo Colon, and Padres catcher Yasmani Grandal will not be suspended in connection with Biogenesis, as they have served 50-game penalties already.
All or almost all of the other 12 players are expected to accept 50-game suspensions, though there could be an additional holdout or two for appeal beyond Rodriguez, reports Heyman. All the players have the option to appeal, but it is believed close to all of them have made agreements for 50-game bans with MLB, Heyman adds. Players who appeal are eligible to keep playing until their case is heard.
Cruz told reporters, including MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan, "I haven't decided what I'm going to do about anything. It's not just about myself, it's also about the team." Today is the 112th game played by the Rangers, so Cruz would be eligible to return for the playoffs (assuming Texas reaches the post-season), if he serves a 50-game suspension beginning Monday. Sullivan surmises the Rangers will recall an outfielder from the minors adding Manny Ramirez is not an option and manager Ron Washington is reluctant to use Jurickson Profar in the outfield. Regardless of what the Rangers end up doing, assistant GM Thad Levine acknowledges, "At this stage of the season, that's a difficult bat to replace."
ESPN's Jayson Stark begins his latest column with a look at the Biogenesis situation. As Joel Sherman of the New York Post first reported, suspension announcements are not expected today. Sherman expects the announcements to come Thursday or Friday. In Stark's opinion, the Rangers are acting like a team that knows what Nelson Cruz will do if suspended, in that their aggressive search for a bat suggests he might serve a suspension now to preserve his free agent value. Meanwhile, the Tigers' lack of pursuit of a backup plan to shortstop Jhonny Peralta suggests he'll appeal. Elsewhere in Stark's column:
- The Dodgers and Angels, who haven't made a trade in 20 years, had a "mostly casual conversation" regarding Halos second baseman Howie Kendrick. There are no indications a deal is in the works.
- The Angels are at least listening on infielders Kendrick, Erick Aybar, and Alberto Callaspo, and seeking high quality big league ready pitching in return.
- The Cubs could move Kevin Gregg and Nate Schierholtz, but are extremely unlikely to trade lefty reliever James Russell and there's just about zero chance of a Jeff Samardzija trade.
- Pitchers Ian Kennedy and J.J. Putz of the Diamondbacks and Kyle Farnsworth of the Rays "have suddenly been made available." Trading Kennedy would allow Arizona to clear around $1.4MM toward another move. Are they that hard up for cash?
Yesterday, Joel Sherman and Ken Davidoff of the New York Post reported "the strong indications are Major League Baseball will announce all the suspensions in the Biogenesis case this week." No announcement from MLB is expected today, tweets Steven Marcus of Newsday. Wednesday's trade deadline is "no factor when it comes to the timing of announcements related to the case," hears Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. We could be in for a wild week. The latest on Biogenesis:
- MLB is willing to offer Rodriguez a suspension of the rest of this year and all of 2014, report Bill Madden, Teri Thompson, and Michael O'Keefe of the New York Daily News, and if he declines, MLB is expected to attempt to ban him for life. Over at River Ave. Blues, Mike Axisa runs through different scenarios involving A-Rod.
- The Yankees have continued to search for third base help, but Heyman says that isn't necessarily tied to the possibility A-Rod gets suspended. Though first-time offenders are permitted to play during an appeals process, baseball might challenge that practice in the case of Rodriguez, writes Rosenthal.
- The Tigers have shown no indication they are looking for a shortstop replacement, writes Heyman. "I would think Detroit would want a shortstop, but we'll see," an NL GM told Heyman. Neither Peralta nor Nelson Cruz has indicated to his team a plan in case of a suspension, writes Yahoo's Jeff Passan. It's possible those two will be faced with choosing their current team (appealing a suspension into next year) or choosing to preserve their free agent value (serving a 50-game suspension now). I imagine taking what might be perceived as the selfish route, serving the suspension now, could hurt free agent stock in its own right.
- As you might expect, the Rangers prefer a prolonged appeals process for Cruz, writes Bob Nightengale of USA Today. Nightengale wonders, "If Cruz goes down without a fight and accepts his penalty, why would they want a guy back who quit on the organization?" That question would apply to Cruz potentially returning for the playoffs, as well as signing a new deal with the Rangers in the offseason. Cruz might have to settle for a less lucrative two-year free agent deal similar to that of Melky Cabrera, one GM estimated to Heyman.
- Since Colon already completed a 50-game suspension for PED use, A's people are expressing confidence he won't get another suspension, writes Heyman, and Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports also hears the same. The team's pursuit of Jake Peavy is unrelated.
- "If drug dealers can use the currency of player evidence as a means to gain immunity and even more money, then our system of policing and protecting baseball has incentivized the people and the very behavior that was the genesis of the problem," agent Scott Boras tells Rosenthal. Baseball cut a deal with Biogenesis owner Anthony Bosch that provides many protections.
- In dealing with Jason Giambi, the Yankees concluded they cannot void a contract based on PED use, writes ESPN's Buster Olney. Some lawyers, however, wonder if a team could file a lawsuit against a player alleging damage to their brand.