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Jim Henderson Rumors
Exactly one week after the trade of Yovani Gallardo was first reported, Milwaukee hosted its annual winter fan festival Brewers On Deck. One year ago, Brewers principal owner Mark Attanasio opened the event by announcing the signing of Matt Garza to the richest free agent contract in franchise history. Today, Attanasio told the crowd he will be very surprised if the Brewers do not make one more signing before Spring Training starts, tweets MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy. GM Doug Melvin has said his focus is strengthening the bullpen and told the assemblage, as tweeted by Andrew Gruman of FOX Sports Wisconsin, he is having negotiations with a few people and there is a chance of adding a reliever. Melvin downplayed the Jonathan Papelbon rumors while Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel tweeted he feels a reunion is in store with Francisco Rodriguez, who saved 44 games for the Brewers last year.
In other news and notes coming out of Brewers On Deck:
- Ryan Braun‘s right thumb, which has plagued him for the past two seasons, is feeling fine allowing him to perform his normal offseason regimen with no restrictions, reports Haudricourt. Braun underwent a cryotherapy procedure on the thumb last October and there are no current plans or need for a follow up session, tweets Haudricourt’s Journal Sentinel colleague Todd Rosiak.
- Attanasio addressed the Gallardo trade (transcript provided by Rosiak). “I could go on and on about how terrific Yovani Gallardo was for our team and the city. There’s a huge amount of risk in doing that. But in the nature of the sport, we need to do that. The goal is not to be average in Milwaukee.“
- The Gallardo deal has left the Brewers without any proven MLB rotation depth which concerns manager Ron Roenicke, Rosiak tweets. Roenicke, however, maintains the team has some good prospects who could step up.
- “I don’t think we have room for a notable starting pitcher,” said Melvin, per Gruman (Twitter). “We’d like to add a pitcher that could be a spot starter.“
- Filling Gallardo’s void in the rotation will be Jimmy Nelson who told Haudricourt he knows why he struggled in 2014. “The problem was when I got to the big leagues I got away from my game plan. The things I was doing to be successful, I got away from that when I got up here.“
- Jim Henderson, who missed most of 2014 battling bone spurs in his right shoulder, began throwing off a mound last week and will have his first true bullpen sessions this week, McCalvy tweets.
- Fellow right-hander Tyler Thornburg, who also missed most of 2014, says platelet-rich plasma therapy and lots of rest has helped heal his UCL injury and is throwing two bullpens per week and plans on being ahead of schedule when pitchers and catcher report next month, according to Gruman (Twitter links).
- The Brewers introduced a new addition to their mascot family: Barrelman. No word if he and Bernie Brewer will have joint custody of the slide.
The Brewers will go the rest of the way without righties Tyler Thornburg and Jim Henderson, according to a tweet from MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy. Thornburg will receive a platelet-rich plasma injection in a bid to avoid surgery on his elbow, while Henderson may need shoulder surgery. Thornburg, 25, tossed 29 2/3 innings before being shut down, while the 31-year-old Henderson (who saved 28 games last season) scuffled through just 11 1/3 frames.
Here’s more out of the National League …
- Braves hurler Kris Medlen is just two and a half weeks away from beginning to throw again after his second Tommy John surgery, and feels confident that he’ll be back on the hill “at some point next season,” David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. But it remains to be seen whether he’ll work his way back with Atlanta, as his current $5.8MM salary and status as a two-time TJ patient makes him a non-tender possibility. “I’m a little nervous about it, just because it’s not in my hands,” said Medlen. “… It’s exciting to be able to pick up a ball in a couple of weeks, but I’m not going to lie, the contract stuff and wanting to come back — I mean, that’s somewhat up in the air this time, so it’s a little nerve-racking, but all I can do is get healthy.” In spite of his uncertain future, the 28-year-old righty should draw plenty of interest around the league if the Braves allow him to hit the open market.
- Were it not for Jonathan Papelbon‘s continued presence at the back of the Phillies‘ bullpen, young righty Ken Giles would likely have moved into the closer’s role, Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News writes. Commenting on the story, Buster Olney of ESPN.com (Insider link) argues that the club should move Papelbon back into a setup role to give Giles an audition as a 9th-inning option and to prevent Papelbon from finishing enough games for his 2016 option to vest at $13MM. While this approach has some facial appeal, I would note that allowing Giles to begin racking up saves now will ultimately raise his price significantly when he ultimately reaches arbitration. (And, of course, there is the question of how to handle Papelbon’s insistence that he continues to close.)
- Yesterday, Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. again discussed his organization’s future, as MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki reports. Declining to give many specifics, Amaro said that the “biggest plan is to make sure we improve offensively and with our pitching overall,” saying he will look to address those (rather broadly-framed) needs “in a variety of ways.” Sitting 14 games back in the division and 11 out of the wild card, the Phillies are nonetheless not entirely ready to give up hope this year. “Right now, we’re trying to win as many games as possible,” said Amaro. “At the same time, at some point, we’re going to have to start looking to the future. … And at some point, we may be looking more at what we have to do for 2015 as far as what’s going on, on the field. … We’re not quite there yet.”
- Though Troy Tulowitzki of the Rockies continues to play shortstop at a very high level, it is time he considered moving to first base, argues Mark Kiszla of the Denver Post. Tulowitzki’s bat is obviously good enough to make the move — he led the league in all three triple-slash categories (.340/.432/.603) when he suffered his season-ending hip injury — but switching to first would obviously sap a good portion of his immense bottom-line value. On the other hand, of course, it is fair to wonder whether playing the least-demanding spot on the diamond might not only help keep Tulowitzki on the field but might also enable him to hit at a top-end level even further into the six years (and $118MM) left on his contract.
Here are some recent minor league transactions from around baseball, with the newest moves at the top of the post…
- Two minor league signings were posted today by the Athletics, as the club landed righty Tim Alderson and outfielder Zeke DeVoss, according to the MLB.com transactions page. Alderson, a 25-year-old former first-rounder and top-100 prospect, has seen his career stall. He has struggled to a 6.12 ERA in 50 relief innings this year for the Orioles’ top affiliate. DeVoss, just 24 years old, was a third-round pick in 2011 but failed to progress this year for the Cubs.
- The Angels have outrighted infielder Ian Stewart to Triple-A, according to the PCL transactions page. He was designated for assignment two days ago. It is not yet clear whether Stewart has accepted the assignment. (He has the right to choose free agency because he has previously been outrighted.)
- The Brewers shifted right-hander Jim Henderson from the 15-day disabled list to the 60-day, the club announced via Twitter. Henderson’s 40-man roster spot will be filled by righty Jeremy Jeffress, who contract was selected by the Brewers in a corresponding move.
- The Giants signed righty Mitchell Boggs, Baseball America’s Matt Eddy reports. Boggs had a 9.50 ERA, 18 strikeouts and 17 walks over 36 relief innings for the White Sox Triple-A affiliate this season before being released earlier this month. A reliable contributor for the Cardinals’ bullpen from 2010-12, Boggs developed major control issues last season, and the Giants are now his fourth organization in a little over a year’s time.
- The Royals released right-hander Ramon Troncoso, the club announced last week. Troncoso signed a minor league contract with K.C. in March and produced a 4.30 ERA, 6.8 K/9 and an even 3.0 K/BB rate over 44 IP with Triple-A Omaha. Troncoso pitched 30 relief innings for the White Sox in 2013, his first taste of big league action since 2011.
- The Phillies released utilityman Rusty Ryal, according to Matt Provence, media relations director for Triple-A LeHigh Valley (Twitter link). Ryal, 31, appeared in 134 games with the Diamondbacks from 2009-10 and hasn’t been back to the majors since, playing in the minors for five different organizations since. He signed a minor league deal with the Phillies in June.
Francisco Rodriguez's trade to the Orioles may be the first of several moves for the Brewers before the trade deadline, though Brewers GM Doug Melvin hinted that further moves (if any) would require a very high return. Here are the highlights of Melvin's conference call with reporters, including Todd Rosiak of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinal…
- As many as six teams had interest in Rodriguez but the field narrowed to three bidders, Melvin said. The other two finalists, besides the O's, were also from the American League. The Tigers and Red Sox were known to have interest in Rodriguez, though it's just speculation on my part that they could have been the two mystery AL teams.
- Melvin spoke highly of Nick Delmonico, the infield prospect acquired from Baltimore. Melvin said he asked the Orioles about Delmonico three weeks ago and were turned down, so the deep trade market for Rodriguez helped the Brewers eventually get the prospect they wanted.
- The Brewers are "not shopping" other bullpen pieces like John Axford or Jim Henderson "but if teams have interest, I have to listen," Melvin said. "We've still got a lot of good young players here. People talk about our pitching but if you trade pitching, you're going to need pitching back for this year, next year and the following years."
- Teams have called about Yovani Gallardo and Kyle Lohse but Melvin said he's "not motivated" to move either starter. Hank Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle (Twitter link) reported earlier today that the Brewers "need to be blown away" to consider moving Lohse, and the Giants weren't a fit as a trade partner.
- Melvin made it clear that he isn't under any pressure to move veterans just for the sake of rebuilding the roster. "This isn't where we're selling. I'm not a believer in buyers and sellers; I'm a believer in making a good deal," Melvin said. "Deals that help both ball clubs are the best deals to work. When you're selling, you're just moving players because of salary and we don't have to do that."
- Some teams have called about the Brewers' position players though Melvin declined to provide details.
Brewers relievers John Axford, Francisco Rodriguez, and Mike Gonzalez are a popular bunch. A Dodgers scout was sent to Milwaukee this week to watch the available trio, writes Danny Knobler of CBS Sports, while the Red Sox, Orioles and Tigers have scouts in Milwaukee this week and the other NL West teams are interested in the Brewers' relievers as well as Yovani Gallardo. Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports has a new report too, saying the Tigers, Orioles, and Diamondbacks have scouted the Brewers' relievers in recent days and weeks.
Morosi says the D'Backs and Brewers have discussed Axford, Rodriguez, and Jim Henderson, while Knobler says the Brewers have told teams Henderson won't be dealt. Interest from the Tigers and Orioles appears more preliminary, writes Morosi, and the Tigers and Brewers have not had formal talks recently.
Rodriguez and Gonzalez will be eligible for free agency after the season, while Axford is under team control through 2016 as an arbitration eligible player. As a Super Two with 106 career saves to his credit, Axford's salary jumped to $5MM this year. As Morosi notes, Axford's salary might scare some teams off, though his lack of saves this year will slow down his arbitration raises. Even though a team can technically own Axford's rights through 2016, the focus for a team acquiring him has to be on 2013, with tendering him a contract even for 2014 a decision that will require more information and some thought. It's one of the reasons the Brewers are reportedly willing to move him.
11:14am: The Diamondbacks have "no interest" in moving Skaggs, writes MLB.com Steve's Gilbert. Gilbert also notes that Skaggs has been impressive at Triple-A as of late and is likely to replace the injured Trevor Cahill in the rotation tomorrow.
THURSDAY, 11:08am: The Diamondbacks are also interested in relievers John Axford, Jim Henderson and Francisco Rodriguez, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. Morosi adds that given the recent injury to White Sox setup ace Jesse Crain — who some considered to be the best reliever on the market — interest in the Brewers' relievers could pick up quickly.
WEDNESDAY: While nothing is imminent, the Diamondbacks and Brewers have been talking about possible trades involving right-hander Yovani Gallardo and one of the Arizona names that's surfaced in discussions is top pitching prospect Tyler Skaggs, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.
The two teams appear to be good partners as the Brewers have another veteran starter in Kyle Lohse and Arizona has plenty of solid young pitching, including Skaggs and Randall Delgado. However, it doesn't appear anything is close at this point and one person familiar with the talks said, "There's no traction at this point.''
Even though a deal isn't going down today or tomorrow, Heyman says that it's a situation worth keeping an eye on. Gallardo fits the bill for the Diamondbacks as they are targeting younger, high-upside, controlled starters.
Steve Adams contributed to this post.