Jimmy Rollins Rumors

NL Notes: Ichiro, Melvin, Rollins

New Marlins outfielder Ichiro Suzuki says being an older free agent is like being an older dog in a pet store, Brad Lefton of the Wall Street Journal writes. “Amongst all the cute little puppies jumping and tumbling for prospective owners, there’s one who’s a little older, a little more mature, who keeps getting passed over for the more adorable ones,” says Ichiro. “When someone finally comes along and points a finger at him, an undying loyalty is born.” The 41-year-old Ichiro’s offseason training routine helps him stay relevant, Lefton writes. Ichiro works out at the Orix Buffaloes’ home park in Japan, with a pitcher who throws batting practice for him and another player he plays catch with. Ichiro might take 150 swings against live pitching each day in the offseason. Here are more notes from the National League.

  • GM Doug Melvin has recently discussed an extension to his contract with the Brewers, although it’s unlikely he and the team will agree to one before the season starts, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes. Melvin’s contract expires after the 2015 season. Counting his previous job with the Rangers, Melvin has now been a GM for about two decades, and it sounds like he remains at least somewhat enthusiastic about continuing. “I still think I’m good at what I do and I still enjoy it,” he says. “I like the draft-and-development part of the job and that’s something we’ll always have to do in our market.”
  • The fact that he’s with the Dodgers now doesn’t mean Jimmy Rollins can’t relate to fans who dislike them, Zach Berman of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes. “For a long time – you don’t hear ‘Beat the Dodgers,’ you don’t hear ‘Beat the Lakers,’ even the Clippers now – it’s ‘Beat L.A.,'” says Rollins. “It’s everything L.A. stands for. . . . I’ve heard [it] for the first time on this side, and I was cracking up. Because I know how the crowd feels, the fans feel, on the other side.” This isn’t the first interview Rollins has given about how strange it can feel for a player to spend years with one organization and then abruptly switch to another, but his perspective on a common but little-discussed situation is still refreshing to read.

West Notes: Peters, Rollins, Deduno

Hall of Fame baseball writer Nick Peters, who covered the Giants for 47 years, has died, Marcos Breton of the Sacramento Bee writes. Peters was 75. He worked for the Bee, the Oakland Tribune, the Berkeley Gazette and the San Francisco Chronicle, covering a total of nearly 5,000 games. The BBWAA honored him with a Spink Award in 2009. Breton writes that Peters had an especially good relationship with Barry Bonds, who Peters had known from being around the Giants since Bonds was child following his father Bobby and godfather Willie Mays. “Nick was known not only for his writing talent and encyclopedic knowledge of baseball, but also for his mentorship of many young reporters who rose through the ranks of sports journalism,” write the Giants in a statement. “He will be deeply missed by the entire Giants organization and our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Lise and the entire Peters family.” Here are more notes from the West divisions.

  • Dodgers shortstop Jimmy Rollins‘ new interview with FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal offers an unusually candid look at what it’s like to change teams. Rollins spent 19 seasons in the Phillies organization before heading to Los Angeles. That involved quite a mental adjustment, as Rollins explains. “It was real tough in the beginning to give in to the LA thing, the Dodger thing, the wearing of blue, being the best organization in pro sports. That’s their belief,” he says. “Now I’m part of that product. But it was tough – 14 years on the other side, learning to . . . I can’t say hate, that’s a strong word . . . but learning to want to beat the brakes off anything with L.A. and Dodger blue in it.”
  • Sam Deduno, who’s out of options, appears to have a good shot at making the Astros‘ roster because he can relieve, MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart writes. Deduno is competing with Roberto Hernandez and Asher Wojciechowski for the fifth spot in the Astros’ rotation, but he has a better chance than either of the other two of making the roster because he can head to the bullpen if he doesn’t get the rotation job. The Astros have two bullpen openings. One will likely go to a lefty (perhaps Joe Thatcher), but Deduno could win the other spot.

NL West Notes: Bumgarner, Dodgers, Navarro

The Dodgers weren’t the only NL West team looking at Cuban right-hander Pablo Millan Fernandez, as MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez reports that the Giants and Padres also had interest.  The Rangers and Red Sox, two of the more aggressive teams on the international signing front in recent years, were also interested in Fernandez, who agreed to an $8MM bonus with Los Angeles yesterday.  Here’s some more from around the NL West…

  • Madison Bumgarner has no plans to approach the Giants about re-negotiating his contract and said he has no regrets over signing his five-year extension, the World Series MVP tells Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News.  In April 2012, Bumgarner signed a deal that, at the time, paid him the highest average annual value of any contract given to a player between 1-2 years of service time.  The five-year, $35MM deal includes a $12MM vesting option for 2018 and a $12MM team option for 2019.  While those options could increase to $16MM based on Cy Young finishes, Bumgarner’s contract has obviously been a major bargain for the Giants.
  • The Brewers were one of a few teams interested in trading for Dodgers infielder Alex Guerrero, though nobody was interested in paying Guerrero the $14MM he’s owed through 2017, ESPN Los Angeles’ Mark Saxon reports.  Some teams were staying away from a trade and instead hoping L.A. would just release the Cuban prospect in the wake of his tough 2014 campaign.  A good Spring Training, however, has earned Guerrero a spot on the Opening Day roster and kept him in the Dodgers’ future plans.
  • The Dodgers won’t be considering extensions for Jimmy Rollins, Howie Kendrick or Juan Uribe until at least partway through the season, Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times writes.  All three veteran infielders are entering their walk years, but L.A. can afford to wait given the presence of Guerrero and Corey Seager, not to mention the possible signing of Hector Olivera.  For his part, Uribe says he wants to stay with the Dodgers beyond 2015.
  • Diamondbacks GM Dave Stewart told reporters (including MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert) and The Arizona Republic’s Nick Piecoro) that Dioner Navarro‘s $5MM salary is too much to fit into his team’s payroll.  The Snakes have been linked to the Blue Jays catcher for much of the offseason and they’re reportedly still scouting him, though Stewart said there isn’t any substance to those rumors.


NL West Notes: Outfielders, Rosario, Rollins, Dodgers

The trade market is still full of outfielders, writes Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. That is especially true in the NL West, where four teams — the Rockies (Brandon Barnes, Charlie Blackmon, Drew Stubbs), Dodgers (Andre Ethier), D-Backs (Cody Ross, Ender Inciarte, David Peralta and, to a lesser extent, Mark Trumbo and A.J. Pollock), and Padres (Will Venable, Cameron Maybin and Carlos Quentin) — all have surpluses. And the Red Sox, too, may feel compelled to move an outfielder given their slate of options, as MLBTR’s Jeff Todd covered at length in February. Jeff and I discussed Ethier in particular on the latest MLBTR Podcast, in light of recent reports indicating that the Dodgers may be willing to absorb as much as $28MM of his remaining $56MM to facilitate a trade.

Here’s more from the NL West…

  • Wilin Rosario has looked comfortable at first base early in game action this spring, writes MLB.com’s Thomas Harding. The Rockies signed Nick Hundley to be their primary backstop, so Rosario will see increased time at first base this winter, particularly against tougher left-handed pitching. Doing so will help spell Justin Morneau. However, Rosario is still expected to see some time behind the dish. And, I would speculate that Rosario is likely very much still available on the trade market should another team make what GM Jeff Bridich and his staff consider to be a suitable offer, though the rookie GM said in January that no such offers had been received.
  • Dodgers shortstop Jimmy Rollins told Jon Heyman of CBS Sports that the Phillies presented him with four possible trade destinations: the Dodgers, Yankees, Mets and Padres. A report earlier this week said that the Mets may have been Rollins’ second choice, and he admitted to Heyman that was perhaps possible, but it’d have required some thought. The Dodgers, however, were his clear first choice, Rollins explained. He wasn’t interested in trying to fill Derek Jeter‘s shoes at age 36 (“If I was 26, OK. But I’m 36. There was not enough time.”) and he didn’t feel the Padres were close enough to competing. Of course, little did Rollins know what type of aggressive restructuring San Diego GM A.J. Preller was about to undertake. The shortstop also told Heyman he’s open to the idea of playing until age 40 and said the idea of reaching 3,000 hits (he’s 694 shy) holds great appeal to him.
  • Fangraphs’ Kiley McDaniel posted his ranking of the Dodgers‘ top prospects today, and some fans may be interested to see that he ranked the highly touted Julio Urias ahead of fellow top prospect Corey Seager. While the two have similar future value and risk, in McDaniel’s estimation, most other outlets do have Seager slightly ahead of Urias. Of course, I’m splitting hairs by calling attention to the distinction, as McDaniel recently ranked Urias as the No. 4 and No. 6 prospects in all of baseball, respectively, and most agree that the duo ranks firmly in the game’s Top 10-15 prospects.

Phillies Notes: Rollins, Herrera, Oliver, Aumont

Former Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins viewed the Dodgers as his number one choice for a new club, writes Jerry Crasnick of ESPN. But if a deal hadn’t been reached, Rollins would have considered a trade to the division rival Mets. Rollins said, “I considered the Mets to be No. 2. They have some arms over there.” Rollins clarified that he’s unsure if he would have ultimately accepted a trade to New York. Adam Rubin of ESPN New York tweets that the Mets inquired about Rollins in November but were told he would not accept a trade.

  • The Phillies are working quickly to evaluate Rule 5 picks Odubel Herrera and Andy Oliver, Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com writes. Herrera will start in the outfield and Oliver will pitch an inning of relief as the Phillies take on the University of Tampa in an exhibition Sunday. Neither Herrera, who posted good on-base percentages in the Rangers system, nor Oliver, a hard-throwing but wild lefty from the Pirates organization, expected to wind up with the Phillies. “This is a good opportunity for me,” says Oliver. “I feel like I’m in a better place than where I came from.”
  • In addition to Oliver, Phillippe Aumont and non-roster invitee Jeanmar Gomez could make the opening day bullpen due to transactional reasons, writes Todd Zolecki of MLB.com. The Phillies acquired Aumont in 2009 as part of the haul from the Mariners for Cliff Lee. He’s the lone remaining asset from that trade and is out of options. If he does not make the club, he’ll be subject to waivers. Gomez, 27, would have to earn a spot on the 40-man roster, but the club isn’t in a position to pass on viable major league pitchers. He has a 3.28 ERA in 78 appearances over the last two seasons, although his peripherals suggest we should expect something closer to a 4.00 ERA.

Phillies Could Look To Add Veteran Shortstop, Catcher During Camp

Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. said that he could look to add a veteran shortstop and catcher to his club, Jayson Stark of ESPN.com reports on Twitter. While Amaro does not expect to make a move before camp opens, he indicated that the club will have its eyes out for additions over the course of the spring.

Philadelphia is obviously charting a different path this year than it has in recent campaigns. With several veterans already dealt away and others possibly to follow, the Phils will no doubt continue to fill a roster with low-priced, good-clubhouse veterans and players with some manner of upside.

At short, Freddy Galvis currently sits atop the depth chart with Jimmy Rollins now in Los Angeles. Additional competition and depth certainly makes some sense there. Behind the dish, veteran Carlos Ruiz seems likely to open the year with the club but could certainly become a trade candidate at some point during the season, if not sooner. With players like Cameron Rupp, Koyie Hill, and John Hester the top names behind him, another option makes some sense.


Dodgers Acquire Jimmy Rollins

12:52pm: The Phillies are sending $1MM to the Dodgers as a part of the deal, an industry source tells Todd Zolecki of MLB.com (on Twitter).

10:27am: After more than a week of anticipation, the Phillies announced that they have traded shortstop Jimmy Rollins and cash considerations to the Dodgers in exchange for right-hander Zach Eflin and left-hander Tom Windle.

Jimmy Rollins

There was a significant hold-up in the trade, as the Phillies had to wait for the Dodgers to finalize their Matt Kemp trade with San Diego due to the fact that Eflin was part of the Dodgers’ return in that deal. Kemp’s physical dragged out the process for both trades, but each has now been announced.

After losing Hanley Ramirez to the Red Sox in free agency, Los Angeles filled its vacancy at shortstop with another high-profile veteran.  Rollins actually generated more fWAR (3.6 to 3.4) than Ramirez in 2014, as while Ramirez delivered more at the plate, Rollins far outpaced Ramirez defensively.  Rollins is no longer the offensive force that he was in his prime, but he still posted an above-average 102 wRC+ in 2014, hitting .243/.323/.394 with 17 homers and 28 steals over 609 plate appearances.

Rollins reached a vesting option in his previous contract that earned him an extra year and an $11MM salary for the 2015 season.  Since the Dodgers’ commitments to both Rollins and third baseman Juan Uribe will be up after 2015, that allows the club some flexibility in deciding the future of Corey Seager.  The top prospect is a shortstop now but many project him to eventually require a move to third base.

Rollins, 36, spent his entire 15-year career in Philadelphia, with the highlights including the NL MVP Award in 2007 and a World Series title in 2008.  Rollins is the Phillies’ all-time franchise leader in hits and doubles, and only Mike Schmidt played more games in a Phillie uniform.

Though parting with Rollins is bittersweet for Philadelphia, they’ll receive a pair of solid pitching prospects in return. Eflin, 20, was selected 33rd overall in the 2012 draft, and the 22-year-old Windle went 56th overall just a year later. At the time of the Kemp deal, ESPN’s Keith Law wrote (subscription required) that he felt Eflin was “at worst” a fourth starter in the Majors with the potential to become more. Baseball America ranked him 14th among Padres prospects last offseason, and MLB.com already ranks him fifth among Phillies prospects, calling him a potential mid-rotation workhorse with the build of a prototypical right-hander. BA noted in their scouting report that he sits comfortably at 90 to 92 mph with a sinking fastball but as touched the mid-90s in the past when needed. Eflin pitched to a 3.80 ERA with 6.5 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9 in 128 innings at Class-A Advanced last season.

Windle, drafted out of the University of Minnesota, also spent last season in High-A, compiling a 4.26 ERA with 7.2 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 in 139 1/3 innings. BA ranked him 12th among Dodgers prospects a season ago, and MLB.com has him sixth among current Phillies farmhands. His changeup made serious progress in 2014, per MLB.com, giving him a chance at a solid third pitch to pair with a low-90s fastball and a “nasty” slider. BA feels that his slider a plus pitch that can befuddle both right- and left-handed batters, noting that even if he doesn’t pan out as a starter, Windle’s fastball/slider combo could play well in a high-leverage relief role. At the time the trade was reported, Law noted that Windle pitched in a brutal environment for pitchers last season, adding that he liked Windle’s chances to break out as a prospect in the Double-A Eastern League in 2015.

CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury first reported the Rollins to the Dodgers was a done deal. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports indicated, on Twitter, that Eflin would head to the Dodgers, and Salisbury reported (also on Twitter) that Windle was the other player in the deal.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Latest On Dodgers, Phillies Trade Rumors

3:01pm: The Phillies are active in discussions with the Dodgers on Rollins, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter).

2:56pm: Jayson Stark of ESPN.com (via Twitter) is getting increasing indications that there’s a real chance of a deal that could send Jimmy Rollins to the Dodgers.  However, something involving Cole Hamels going to L.A. seems less likely.

1:42pm: Philadelphia could strike a deal with the Dodgers involving both Cole Hamels and Rollins, MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki suggests in the course of a broader discussion of Hamels’ market. Zolecki says that the Phillies might be able to get one of the Dodgers’ top prospects in a deal, noting that an expanded package — possibly including Rollins — may provide a means of sweetening the pot.

The best chance of the Phils pulling off a deal this week could involve Rollins going to Los Angeles, reports Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com.

12:44pm: Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins would approve a trade to the Dodgers, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Of course, a deal would have to be worked out first, and Heyman says there is at least some chance of that happening.

Rollins is said to have a fairly short list of teams to whom he would approve a trade. He has ten-and-five rights, giving him full no-trade protection. Heyman says that the Mets and Athletics are among the teams to which Rollins would not approve a deal, while he “apparently” would have okay’ed a deal to the Yankees had it come to fruition earlier in the offseason.

Los Angeles is still in the market for a shortstop after letting Hanley Ramirez walk, though it does have internal options to fill the void. The team was said at one point to have interest in veteran Alexei Ramirez, which at least lends facial plausibility to the idea of the club considering Rollins, who is in the final year of his contract.


Cubs Tell Other Teams Castro Not Available

The Cubs have informed other clubs Starlin Castro is not available in trade, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Heyman lists the Mets and Yankees (prior to obtaining Didi Gregorius) as teams who have been told the Cubs want to hang onto the 24-year-old All-Star shortstop. Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times tweets the Cubs have also assured Castro he will not be traded this offseason.

With a thin shortstop market and the Cubs having prospects Javier Baez and Addison Russell in the wings, Castro was a popular name for teams in need at the position. The Yankees were able to fill their shortstop vacancy by acquiring Gregorius earlier this week, but the Mets are still in the hunt for an upgrade over Wilmer Flores. Heyman, in a separate report, writes Jimmy Rollins still has not changed his stance on waiving his no-trade clause and the Phillies have relayed that position to the Mets and some other teams.


Shortstop Rumors: Rollins, Tulo, Dodgers, Miller

The Yankees called the Phillies to ask about the availability of Jimmy Rollins, reports ESPN’s Jayson Stark, but the asking price was deemed too high and the Bombers have since moved on (All Twitter links). GM Ruben Amaro Jr. wouldn’t comment to Stark on the Yankees’ interest, but he tells Stark that Rollins is still one of the best shortstops in baseball and would therefore want a lot in return. Amaro adds that Rollins would be “very hard to replace” and is someone the Phillies want on their team. According to Stark, Rollins was never even approached by the team to ask if he would waive his no-trade clause to accept a trade to New York. Throwing even more cold water on the idea of a match, Stark reports (Twitter links) that the Yankees were offering only a “utility player” and that Rollins was not interested in playing in New York.

Here are some more notes pertaining to shortstops from around the league…

  • Andy Martino of the New York Daily News reports that while the thought of Troy Tulowitzki heading to the Yankees in a trade has long been considered a long shot, there are “recent, strong indications” that there’s absolutely no chance of such a trade. The Yankees are showing a real reluctance to take on another significant contract, and the six-year, $114 commitment Tulowitzki has remaining has no appeal.
  • Not only that, Martino hears from executives with interested teams that over the past two weeks, the Rockies have given the impression that Tulowitzki is simply unavailable.
  • The Dodgers are in the market for a stopgap to serve as a bridge to top prospect Corey Seager, reports MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick. The team feels that while whoever mans shortstop for them in 2015 won’t have the offensive talent of Hanley Ramirez, he will provide a marked defensive difference that offsets some loss of offense. Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman and several Dodgers decision-makers watched Seager in the Arizona Fall League, and Friedman disagreed with scouts who feel that Seager will have to move to third base. Said Friedman: “I’m convinced that I would not move him off shortstop right now — his hands work really well, and we have a number of guys who think he has a real chance to stick there.”
  • In a video blog, ESPN’s Buster Olney notes that while three big-market teams — the Yankees, Mets and Dodgers — have a need at shortstop, the perception among executives is that there just isn’t much to be had. Executives feel that they could “absolutely” call the Mariners about Brad Miller, says Olney, but he’s been inconsistent at the plate. Stephen Drew hasn’t hit consistently over the past three seasons, either. Rollins has 10-and-5 rights and hasn’t given an inclination that he wants to approve a trade. And free agent Jed Lowrie is viewed by many teams as more of a second baseman than a shortstop.