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Jimmy Rollins Rumors
There’s been quite a bit of chatter regarding Jeff Samardzija and the rest of the Cubs’ pitchers over the past few days, due largely to the fact that everyone is aware the Cubs will be sellers at this summer’s non-waiver trade deadline. For other clubs, the trade picture isn’t so clear. Here are some notes on players that are potential trade targets and on which clubs should buy and which should sell…
- Phillies president David Montgomery tells Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer that the club can’t be stubborn and close itself off from trading certain players if it’s the best thing for the team — and that includes longtime cornerstones Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins. Referring to Utley, Montgomery noted that he’d like his second baseman to remain with the club beyond his playing days. Of course, both players have 10-and-5 rights and can veto any trade.
- For his part, Rollins softened his stance on waiving his no-trade rights after surpassing Mike Schmidt for the franchise hits lead this weekend, Gelb notes. Said Rollins: “It really depends if everything is blown up. Then, you take that into consideration. Fortunately, I don’t have to worry about that right now. But if that time does come, and it’s time to go … people move on.”
- Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com reports that the Red Sox and Yankees have some interest in John Mayberry Jr. as outfield depth. Boston has scouted several recent Phillies games, and one “plugged-in Major League source” tells Salisbury that the Yankees are a team to watch in regards to Mayberry as well.
- In an ESPN Insider piece, Dan Szymborski opines that the Royals need to make a bold acquisition in an attempt to take the AL Central. Szymborski’s ZiPS projection system has the Royals as a 50-50 chance to make the playoffs and a 29 percent chance to win the division right now. With five regular position players ranking at or below replacement level (per Baseball-Reference), the team needs to make a splash, as the Tigers are far more vulnerable than most expected. He suggests that third base and right field are the two most viable spots, listing Aaron Hill, Ben Zobrist and Chase Headley as possible targets.
- Yankees GM Brian Cashman expects to make a trade or multiple trades this July, writes Barry M. Bloom of MLB.com. “I feel that we need to get better from within, and I think I can speed up the process if I run into something outside at the same time,” said Cashman. “We usually make moves every year, so I expect to make moves again.” Bloom runs down a list of trade targets and notes that the stock of Dellin Betances has skyrocketed this season, though he wonders if Cashman would be willing to include a potential future closer for a short-term fix. Cashman said he didn’t want to wait to make a move but added that prices are often highest early on in trade season.
- Though Joel Sherman of the New York Post said not long ago that the Mets should act boldly as buyers, the team’s recent woes have him convinced that the opposite may now be true. After a 4-11 skid, he writes that the Mets should deal two of Jon Niese, Bartolo Colon and Dillon Gee this summer and also make Daniel Murphy available in trades. Doing so will bring back valuable offensive prospects and position the Mets well for a high draft pick in 2015. He notes that Sandy Alderson’s regime has done well in trades, bringing in Zack Wheeler, Noah Syndergaard, Travis d’Arnaud, Vic Black and Dilson Herrera by trading veteran pieces.
The Cubs can look forward to a bright future, writes Peter Gammons of Gammons Daily. Top prospect Kris Bryant is busy hammering Double-A pitching (.358/.462/.713 in 286 plate appearances), fourth overall pick Kyle Schwarber homered in his professional debut, and high profile Cuban Jorge Soler is back on the field. Gammons points to Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro as two useful building blocks, and he credits recent trades as another reason for optimism. The Cubs acquired much of their current bullpen, along with Mike Olt and Jake Arrieta, at the 2013 trade deadline. This season, Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel headline the list of Cubbies potentially on the trade block.
- Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins hit a single today for his 2,235th base knock with the club, moving him past Mike Schmidt for the franchise lead in hits. As Ken Rosenthal speculated last weekend, Rollins may be more willing to waive his ten and five rights now that he holds that club record. Rollins himself said today that he would consider accepting a trade if the Phillies end up pursuing a full rebuild, reports Jim Salisbury of Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia. Of course, even if Rollins does waive his no-trade clause, the club may need to eat some salary in order to receive a valuable player in return. His $11MM vesting option for 2015 will vest with another 156 plate apperances.
- Pending the results of tonight’s matchup against the Athletics, the Yankees have played to a healthy 35-31 record. Much of the club’s success can be attributed to rotation depth, says Jorge Castillo of The Star Ledger. With Ivan Nova, Michael Pineda, and C.C. Sabathia missing substantial time, it has fallen to David Phelps, Vidal Nuno, and Chase Whitley to keep the staff afloat. Whitley has been the most surprising story for the Yankees with a 2.41 ERA (backed up by a 2.58 FIP) in six starts. Of course, steady production from Hiroki Kuroda and a Cy Young quality performance from Masahiro Tanaka have also helped to stabilize the rotation.
- Recent Tigers call-up Eugenio Suarez fell just a single short of the cycle today in Detroit’s 12-9 victory over the Twins. Despite a rough spring training, the Venezuelan shortstop hit well in the minors this season before earning his promotion. In a post earlier this week on MLB.com, Phil Rogers discussed Suarez’s work with former defensive wizard Omar Vizquel. It appears Vizquel also believes in Suarez’s bat, citing a shorter swing and improved discipline against breaking balls for his success in the upper minors. The shortstop position has been a problem area all year for the AL Central leading Tigers. If the 22-year-old Suarez continues to perform, the club may be able to focus more attention at the trade deadline on its bullpen.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports has been plenty busy over the past few days, digging up rumors from all around the league. Here are some highlights from his latest work…
- Two sources tell Rosenthal that Matt Wieters‘ throwing program is going poorly and surgery is looking more likely (Twitter links). A third source, however, cautions that it’s too soon to make that judgment, adding that Wieters has good days and also bad days at this time.
- In this weekend’s Full Count video, he notes that while many were shocked by Max Scherzer‘s decision to turn down $144MM in an attempt to secure more on next year’s free agent market, Scherzer has an insurance policy on his right arm that Scherzer says “takes the injury risk out of it.” While the policy likely doesn’t cover the full amount of that offer, it sounds to be a substantial amount. Rosenthal adds that Jon Lester has a similar policy, though not for nearly as much money as Scherzer’s policy.
- Some friends of Jimmy Rollins feel that he’ll be willing to waive his 10-and-5 rights to approve a trade once he passes Mike Schmidt for the franchise lead in hits. Others feel he and his wife, a Philadelphia native, prefer to stay no matter what. Of course, Rollins’ $11MM vesting option damages his trade value as well, as he will easily reach the required plate appearances if he stays healthy.
- The Giants are looking to upgrade at second base this summer. While they could use a starting pitcher, they aren’t likely to make an addition that would turn Tim Lincecum into a $17MM bullpen arm. The Athletics, on the other hand, could use a starting pitching upgrade and have the necessary catching depth to make a move.
- The Orioles are willing to move Delmon Young, who is batting .286/.318/.369 and has lost most of his plate appearances to Steve Pearce. While Young isn’t the hitter than Kendrys Morales is, Rosenthal lists him as a low-cost alternative to teams that missed out on Morales; Young is set to earn about $600K over the rest of the season.
Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News reports that Phillies president David Montgomery recently underwent surgery to remove cancer from his jaw. The procedure, which involved taking a bone from Montgomery’s leg and transplanting it to his mouth, will leave the 67-year-old hospitalized for another week. He is expected to make a full recovery. MLBTR wishes Montgomery a speedy return.
Here’s the latest on the Phillies…
- Cliff Lee has been placed on the disabled list with what has been termed a mild flexor tendon sprain, the team announced yesterday. The Inquirer’s Matt Gelb writes that doctors stressed to Lee the fact that he has no ligament damage. Still the team could be without its ace for at least three weeks, as Lee will rest entirely for one week then spend two weeks rebuilding the strength that rest will cause him to lose.
- ESPN’s Jayson Stark spoke with GM Ruben Amaro Jr., who said that he doesn’t yet know how Lee’s injury will impact his team’s strategy this summer. Amaro pointed out the parity throughout the game right now, citing it as another reason that he can’t assess whether his team will be a buyer or seller. He said David Buchanan is the most likely candidate to replace Lee, though he wouldn’t commit to that 100 percent. Darin Ruf has been called up for the time being, though Amaro termed that a “three-day fix.”
- Amaro also provided an update on righty Jonathan Pettibone, as Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com reports (Twitter links). A visit to Dr. James Andrews revealed a small labral tear, but Pettibone will not undergo surgery at this time. Instead, he will be treated with an anti-inflammatory shot and continue resting before starting to throw again. It was Pettibone’s decision to try to avoid surgery, reports Salisbury, which seems to imply that a procedure could still be a possibility in the future. As MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki writes, the so-called SLAP tear can present serious issues, and it is far from certain that Pettibone will ultimately avoid a more drastic solution.
- Veteran shortstop Jimmy Rollins has put up quite an impressive performance through the first quarter of the season. His current pace — a .275/.369/.458 triple-slash with 6 home runs and 6 steals — is not only a bounce back from a rough 2013, but is reminiscent of his form in the glory days of the mid-to-late 2000’s. The 35-year-old has combined with Chase Utley to form one of the game’s most productive middle-infield duos. In theory, that makes Rollins an intriguing trade chip and, potentially, upcoming free agent. In fact, it is still far from clear that the Phils will look to deal him, let alone that he would agree to waive his ten-and-five rights. And Rollins is now exceedingly unlikely to hit the open market after the season. With 177 plate appearances already in the bag, the vesting of his $11MM option for next year seems a virtual shoo-in, barring significant injury. (It would vest at 600 plate appearances this year or 1,100 combined between 2013-14, though the latter scenario has injury protections built in for the team.)
Jeff Todd contributed to this post.
It was on this day in 1961 that Braves legend Warren Spahn threw a no-hitter at age 40, holding the Giants to just two walks in the 1-0 result. It was the second no-hitter of Spahn’s long career, yet his first came just eight months earlier when he no-hit the Phillies on September 16, 1960.
Here’s some news of note from around the NL East…
- Ervin Santana‘s newly-developed changeup has been a big new weapon in his pitching arsenal, Fangraphs’ Jeff Sullivan writes. It’s still early in the season and the changeup’s effectiveness could drop as scouting reports get around the league, Sullivan warns, yet the results have thus far been very impressive for Santana and the Braves.
- The Marlins could’ve added more veteran depth to their young rotation over the offseason, yet manager Mike Redmond, pitching coach Chuck Hernandez and the front office all decided that the young arms were the way to go, MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro writes. “As we entered the offseason and started our planning, there were tough decisions and frank discussions. If there was not a belief from the dugout to the front office that these weren’t the right guys, then we would have gone out to try to find whatever we needed,” Miami president of baseball ops Michael Hill said.
- Jimmy Rollins has been “an ideal citizen” within the Phillies clubhouse and has taken on a leadership role with young players, a source tells FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal. This could be Rollins’ way of moving past the tension that existed between he and manager Ryne Sandberg during Spring Training, Rosenthal notes, or Rollins could be attempting to ensure that he receives the 434 PA he needs for his 2015 option to vest.
- Also from Rosenthal’s column, the Phillies‘ bullpen “remains alarmingly thin” and “an outside addition would be helpful.” Phillies relievers have posted a 5.14 ERA this season, the third-worst bullpen ERA in the majors. Right-handed relief is a particular need given that Justin De Fratus, Brad Lincoln and B.J. Rosenberg have all been hit hard and none are even currently on the Major League roster.
A fair amount of ink has already been dedicated to the friction between Jimmy Rollins and new manager Ryne Sandberg this spring, and ESPN's Buster Olney now reports that there's a strong sentiment within the Phillies organization that the team would be better off trading its longtime shortstop as soon as possible (Twitter link). However, as Olney notes, Rollins has 10-and-5 rights (10 years of Major League service and five consecutive with the same team), meaning he has the right to void any trade. Rollins told CSNPhilly.com's Jim Salisbury as recently as yesterday that he has no plans to waive his 10-and-5 rights anytime in the near future: "If we’re in absolutely last place with nowhere to go and change is obviously on the horizon, then at that point I’d think about it. But anything short of a complete disaster, I’m wearing red and white pinstripes." Rollins has already said as much this spring, indicating that he'd like to become the Phillies' all-time hits leader and set some other records with the club (he's currently 60 hits shy).
More Rollins- and NL-East-related items for your Tuesday morning…
- Andy Martino of the New York Daily News spoke with team sources from the Mets and Yankees regarding potential interest in Rollins (both could use some infield help). He was told that the Yankees think it would be too awkward to bring in a name that big in Derek Jeter's final season, and the Mets source simply replied, "Don't see it."
- Also from Martino's piece, Mets top prospect Noah Syndergaard was reassigned to the minor leagues today, and while he's likely to make his Major League debut in 2014, he probably won't pitch a full season until 2016. Martino reports that Syndergaard is capped around 150 innings this season, and because the team tries to limit starting pitcher increases to 30 innings per season, he'll likely be capped around 180 in 2015.
- Braves GM Frank Wren told reporters, including MLB.com's Mark Bowman, that the team plans to revisit the rehab process of Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy in an attempt to figure out why each player appears headed for a second Tommy John surgery. Said Wren: "I think we're always evaluating and looking at how we do things and why we do them and do we need to make changes? … I don't think we'll ever stop researching and analyzing. But I can't tell you today that we feel there is a common link [between Medlen and Beachy] other than that they're wearing the same uniform."
- Jamey Carroll's focus is currently on making the Nationals roster, but he tells Pete Kerzel of MASNsports.com that he's intrigued with the possibility of becoming a manager somewhere down the line. Carroll has been suggested as a future manager by many of his former coaches and teammates. He calls the fact that young players have been seeking him out for advice in camp with the Nats "humbling," though he hints that when his playing career is done, he may first take some time with his family before getting back into the game.
Jimmy Rollins spoke with MLB.com's Todd Zolecki regarding the team's struggles last season and noted that 2013 was just one year, and he is looking forward to a new chapter. Rollins spoke about trade rumors that surrounded his name last summer, noting that he had no plans to waive his 10-and-5 rights if asked. Rollins, who is just 60 hits shy of becoming the franchise leader, said he doesn't plan on ever playing for another club: "I don't plan on putting on a different uniform," he said. More links pertaining to the Phillies and the NL East…
- Until the Phillies share their side of the Ben Wetzler controversy, the team will simply look vindictive, opines David Murphy of the Philadelphia Inquirer. He adds that the Phillies clearly thought they'd be able to sign Wetzler, who instead returned to Oregon State for his senior season and is now unable to play after the Phillies notified the NCAA that they feel he violated the "no agent" rule. Murphy goes into detail on how the vast majority of draft prospects circumvent this rule.
- The only rationale that Fangraphs' Jeff Sullivan can see for the Phillies' decisions regarding Wetzler and Jason Monda (who also declined to sign but has already been cleared by the NCAA) was to send a message to future draftees: "Sign or face, at the very least, an extended, attention-grabbing inconvenience." Like Murphy (and many baseball fans), Sullivan hopes to hear the Phillies' side of the story and their explanation behind making what he calls an "unambiguously bad decision" that seemingly benefited no one.
- Greg Stoda of the Palm Beach Post writes that Giancarlo Stanton is ok with the fact that the Marlins don't want to have extension talks until after the season. Stanton said that Freddie Freeman's recent eight-year, $135MM extension with the Braves won't be on his mind this season, though he did tip his hand a little in stating, "The contract would be similar, I guess."
- Mets ace Matt Harvey tells Adam Rubin of ESPN New York that he's been cleared to begin tossing a baseball in the next couple of days. Rubin writes that Harvey is not yet resigned to missing the entire 2014 season, but the Mets have stated in the past that Harvey will not pitch in 2014. "I'd always love to pitch and get back out there, but I don't make those decisions," said Harvey.
- Newsday's Marc Carig writes that despite his elite defense in center field, Juan Lagares isn't a lock to be an everyday player for the Mets in 2014. Carig talked with an official from another club whose background is in analytics, with that official noting that a key factor in defensive metrics is a need to factor in regression due to the volatile year-to-year nature of defensive numbers.
Here's the latest from the City Of Brotherly Love…
- Jimmy Rollins left little room that he would waive his 10-5 rights and allow a trade, the veteran shortstop tells CSNPhilly.com's Marshall Harris (passed on by CSNPhilly.com's Jim Salisbury). “I’m not planning on waiving my no-trade clause. My plan is to bring a championship back here, to be honest. So until something else happens and the situation presents itself where it may help the team — then I’ll think about it. But until then there’s nothing to think about.”
- Phillies president and CEO David Montgomery discussed the A.J. Burnett signing, the club's offseason moves, the new TV contract, and other topics in an interview with MLB.com's Todd Zolecki.
- Oregon State left-hander Ben Wetzler was indefinitely suspended by the NCAA for inappropriate contact with a financial advisor after he was drafted in the fifth round by the Phillies last June, and Baseball America's Aaron Fitt reports (all Twitter links) that it was the Phils themselves who turned Wetzler in to the NCAA. The club also tried to report sixth-round pick Jason Monda, but Monda was cleared by the NCAA to continue playing for Washington State. Wetzler and Monda, both college juniors, turned to school rather than sign with the Phillies, and Fitt notes that it is "a significant departure from [the] industry norm" for teams to report on their unsigned players.
- In reaction to Fitt's report, Scout.com's Kiley McDaniel says the Phillies "destroyed all trust" between teams and agents in the draft process and Baseball America's Jim Callis feels this "should be" cause for non-senior college players and agents to be careful about dealing with Philadelphia (both links to Twitter).
Reports have already surfaced that the Phillies are aggressively shopping closer Jonathan Papelbon, and ESPN's Buster Olney now reports (via Twitter) that the club is "very willing" to move shortstop Jimmy Rollins. Olney notes that Rollins has a no-trade clause, however.
Rollins, 35, struggled at the plate in 2013, batting .252/.318/.348 with a career-low six home runs despite playing in 160 games. He did swipe 22 bases in 28 attempts, but his defense also slipped, based on his -2.7 UZR/150 and -15 Defensive Runs Saved (per The Fielding Bible).
Rollins is owed $11MM in 2014 — the final guaranteed season of a three-year, $33MM contract. That deal contains an easily attainable vesting option for a fourth year at $11MM, however, which will trigger if Rollins reaches 1100 plate appearances between 2013-14 and is not on the disabled list to close the 2014 season. Rollins tallied 666 PAs in 2013, meaning he will only need 434 trips to the plate in 2014 to secure an $11MM salary in 2015. Should the option not vest, the Phillies will then hold an $8MM club option on Rollins. In the event that the Phillies decline that option, Rollins would then have a $5MM player option.
Reports this summer indicated that Rollins was not willing to waive his full no-trade clause, so the fact that the Phillies are open to moving him at this time might be a non-issue. GM Ruben Amaro Jr. was asked in late August if he thought Rollins would benefit from a change of scenery, to which he replied, "You'd have to ask Jimmy," before going on to state: "Jimmy is our shortstop. We signed him for a reason."
Now that Bud Selig has announced he will retire following the 2014 season, speculation has already begun about who will be Major League Baseball's next commissioner. ESPN's Jayson Stark thinks it would be "a monumental upset" if MLB doesn't go with an internal candidate, and the favorites are league executive vice-presidents Rob Manfred and Tim Brosnan, and MLB Advanced Media CEO Bob Bowman. Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan hears that Manfred is the safest and most well-rounded pick, though some sources consider Brosnan to be the better candidate. Stark and Passan list such names as Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski, Mets GM Sandy Alderson, Indians president Mark Shapiro and Diamondbacks president Derrick Hall as other possible choices.
- Jimmy Rollins is confident that the Phillies already have the pieces they need to succeed thanks to their emerging youth, CSNPhilly.com's Corey Seidman writes. “That old window's closed," Rollins admitted. "This is a brand new thing. You've still got the pieces, but this is a brand new thing going forward. Obviously we would love to have that right-handed bat, but Darin Ruf has come up and done that so far. We're going to get Ryan [Howard] back, hopefully a healthy Ryan back on his legs and strong."
- Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers will recommend to ownership that manager Kirk Gibson be retained for next season, Towers told reporters (including MLB.com's Steve Gilbert). Gibson has a 289-277 record since taking over as Arizona's manager halfway through the 2010 season and he led the team to an NL West title in 2011. Both Gibson and Towers are only under contract through the end of the 2014 season.
- While Brad Ziegler has enjoyed being the Diamondbacks' closer, he tells Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic that it doesn't matter if he's closing or in his usual set-up role next season. Ziegler has a 2.28 ERA and 12 saves over 71 IP and a league-best 76 games this season. He's going into his third and final year of arbitration eligibility though there has been talk that Arizona will try to work out a contract extension.
- Jack Zduriencik's mistakes as the Mariners' general manager are recapped by Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times in a piece that chronicles the team's strategies and major transactions over the last several years. While Baker holds Zduriencik accountable for his own mistakes, he also points the finger at the club's upper management for the larger issues surrounding the Mariners' lack of recent success.
- John Danks is "embarrassed" by his performance since signing a five-year, $65MM extension with the White Sox before the 2012 season, the southpaw tells MLB.com's Scott Merkin. "The goal is always to throw 200-plus innings, take the ball every day and give us a chance to win. I've got three years to make everyone believe it was worth it," Danks said. "That's part of my motivating factor. I want to be the productive player I'm expected to be."
- "The Cubs are the last-place team poised to contend the soonest. The Astros are the one with the brightest future," Jim Callis writes for MLB.com in his analysis of both teams' young talent.
MLBTR's Zach Links contributed to this post