J.J. Hardy Rumors
Players who have performed well this month are more likely to intrigue buyers for at least two reasons. First of all, strong performance is an indication of health. Secondly, MLB teams have diverted some scouting efforts from amateurs to the pros since this year’s draft concluded about a month ago.
As a result, it’s fair to say that players who have been performing well this past month are more likely to draw interest at the trade deadline than players with similar overall numbers who had hot starts then cooled off later in the season. Here’s a look at some players who have been performing particularly well over the course of the past 30 days:
- Michael Cuddyer - The Twins aren’t prepared to sell yet, but Cuddyer would be a candidate to go if they do decide 2011 isn’t their year. He has a .378/.458/.633 line this month.
- Melky Cabrera - Cabrera is under team control through 2012 as an arbitration eligible player, so Kansas City’s front office may decide to keep him around for another year. His .342/.374/.470 line this month would appeal to contenders, though.
- Mark Reynolds - The slugger has ten homers in the past 30 days after starting the season slowly. He earns $7.5MM in 2012 and has an $11MM option for 2013 ($500K buyout).
- J.J. Hardy - Like Reynolds, Hardy had a power surge this month. He hit seven homers and added a .269/.306/.600 line. The Orioles are negotiating an extension with the shortstop, so there’s a good chance he stays in Baltimore.
- Coco Crisp - Crisp has a respectable .298/.364/.426 line this month.
- Carlos Pena - Like Reynolds, Pena strikes out a ton and has a low batting average. But his hot streaks can carry teams and he hit ten homers with a .240/.306/.600 line this month. Tim Dierkes examined Pena as a trade candidate earlier today.
- Livan Hernandez - GM Mike Rizzo says the Nationals will be buyers and sellers this month. Presumably some rival clubs are hoping the dependable Hernandez is available this summer, since he has a 3.62 ERA with 7.2 K/9 and 1.4 BB/9 this month.
- Edwin Jackson - It’s not surprising that clubs are inquiring on Jackson given that he has posted a 4.05 ERA with 9.1 K/9 and 1.4 BB/9 this month. And his 2.52 xFIP suggests he has pitched better than his ERA indicates.
- Ryan Dempster - Across town, Dempster could draw interest as well. The right-hander has a 2.59 ERA with 7.8 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9 this month.
- Carlos Villanueva - Though he may not be a trade candidate in the traditional sense, Villanueva’s success in the rotation has presumably drawn the attention of front offices around baseball. He has a 2.84 ERA with 5.4 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 this month.
- Hiroki Kuroda - Kuroda will require compensation to waive his no-trade clause, but he is already drawing interest. The right-hander has a 2.30 ERA with 5.7 K/9 and 1.4 BB/9 this month.
- Aramis Ramirez, Jose Reyes and Hunter Pence have been playing well, but it seems unlikely that they'll be dealt this month. I’m ignoring relievers, since many relievers have worked ten innings or less this month and that’s a minute sample size.
Here are a few items of note coming out of the American League East. The Red Sox own a one-game lead over the Yankees in that tightly contested division as we hit the Midsummer Classic ...
- Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy is hopeful that a contract extension will be agreed upon during the All-Star break, writes Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun. Said Hardy: “I hope it gets done during the break. I don’t know if it will. Right now, the ball is kind of in their court. That’s where it’s at.”
- Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez will undergo right knee surgery and miss four-six weeks, according to Marc Carig of the Star-Ledger (via Twitter). For now, it appears the Yanks will go with Eduardo Nunez in A-Rod's stead, writes Chad Jennings of LoHud.com. As Tim Dierkes noted a couple weeks back, the trade market for third basemen is pretty bleak. The best sensible trade candidate is probably Aramis Ramirez, but he, along with his agent, has been consistent in maintaining that he won't waive his no-trade clause.
- Red Sox pitcher Kevin Millwood was not called up from Triple-A Pawtucket recently despite Boston having an opening in its rotation, likely because it's easier to return Kyle Weiland to the minors than Millwood, writes Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal. Red Sox minor league director Mike Hazen said he expects Millwood to get his shot in Boston sometime later this season. Millwood chose not to opt out of his deal with Boston in June.
The Reds signed Pete Rose as an amateur free agent on this date in 1960 and it's safe to say their investment paid off. Rose collected 3,358 hits in 19 seasons with the Reds en route to becoming MLB's all-time hits leader with 4,256. Here are today's links...
- Phillies starter Cole Hamels is heading into his final season of arbitration eligibility and as David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News shows in a pair of pieces, starters with Hamels-like production have been extremely well-paid in recent years. Hamels is earning $9.5MM this year in his third season of arbitration eligibility.
- Paul Hagen of the Philadelphia Daily News explains that the Phillies might want to acquire a right-handed hitter for their lineup to avoid becoming a regular season success that fails in the playoffs, like the 2001 Mariners.
- Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports explains that being selected to play in the All-Star Game has made a difference for players like Jose Bautista and Joe Nathan, who have obtained more endorsement offers and had more leverage in contract discussions since becoming All-Stars for the first time.
- The teams on Joakim Soria's no-trade list have changed since last season, according to Morosi (on Twitter). The Yankees, Red Sox and Phillies are on the list, just as they were last year. The Tigers, Cardinals and Cubs were previously on Soria's list, which is designed to provide the reliever with leverage.
- Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun reports that the Orioles are communicating semi-regularly with J.J. Hardy about a possible extension. The Orioles began extension talks with the shortstop last week.
- Atlanta GM Frank Wren told Mark Bowman of MLB.com that the pieces the Braves are looking for may already be on their roster.
The latest from Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe...
- The Dodgers are not ready to become sellers quite yet, but Cafardo reports that the team's scouts are already compiling lists of other teams' better prospects. Ted Lilly, Hiroki Kuroda and Jamey Carroll are among the players who would be made available --- Kuroda is already attracting the attention of several teams and MLBTR's Tim Dierkes looked at Carroll's trade candidacy two weeks ago.
- Cafardo reports that the Indians looked into Casey Blake as a depth option at third base before Lonnie Chisenhall was called up. Blake, Jonathan Broxton and Jon Garland are all currently on the DL but would be shopped by L.A. if they can prove they're healthy.
- The Dodgers don't appear to be interested in moving higher-profile players like Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier or James Loney since "the feeling is Dodgers fans would rebel if some of their star players were sold off." I don't think Loney falls into this category at all -- he has just a .678 OPS this season and could be a non-tender candidate after the season, so the Dodgers would love to get something back for him.
- J.J. Hardy will be "a major trade chip" for the Orioles if the two sides can't work out a contract extension before the deadline. Hardy would become the top option for shortstop-needy teams, particularly if the Mets don't shop Jose Reyes.
- "It’s no secret that [Wandy Rodriguez] is being watched closely by the Yankees, who have sent a few people to watch some of his starts," Cafardo writes. As FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal noted a few weeks ago, the Yankees would want Rodriguez at the back of their rotation while the Astros would want a trade package befitting an ace, so there may not be a fit between the two teams. Cafardo notes that Brett Myers "also remains on the Yankees' radar."
- The Twins are more likely to deal Carl Pavano or Francisco Liriano than they would Scott Baker, though "there are teams that would love to get their hands on Baker."
- The White Sox recently sent assistant general manager Dave Yokum to scout some Braves games for pitching. Cafardo specifically cites Brandon Beachy as a starter the Sox were watching and says that Beachy or Derek Lowe could be shopped by Atlanta in exchange for a hitter. I think it's obvious the Braves would prefer to move the expensive Lowe rather than a young, controllable pitcher like Beachy, but if the Braves wanted to pick up a big bat like Carlos Quentin (as Cafardo speculates), Atlanta certainly has the pitching depth to spare.
The Orioles have been in touch with J.J. Hardy’s agent to discuss an extension for the shortstop, according to Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun. President of baseball operations Andy MacPhail had stated his intention to start talks with Hardy's representatives at LSW Baseball before the All-Star break.
With free agency a few months away, Hardy is having his best season in years. The 28-year-old has a .303/.367/.548 line with 11 homers, nine of which have come in June. Talks haven’t gotten serious between Hardy and the Orioles, but they could pick up this month.
Though top shortstop prospect Manny Machado has an .829 OPS in his first year as a professional, the 18-year-old has yet to play above Class A. The Orioles appear to want to limit an extension for Hardy to two years.
Much to everyone’s surprise, Nationals manager Jim Riggleman stepped down yesterday. Baseball writers, including MLBTR’s Howard Megdal, have been buzzing about the move since. Jon Heyman of SI.com now weighs in on the decision before providing other notes from around the league...
- Riggleman had considered resigning a few times before actually doing so yesterday, according to Heyman. In the past, agent Burton Rocks advised Riggleman to wait it out, but the skipper’s patience evidently wore thin this week despite his club’s hot streak.
- Nationals GM Mike Rizzo wants a veteran manager, according to Heyman. Rizzo will consider Davey Johnson, the 68-year-old former manager who is currently one of Rizzo’s advisors.
- The Orioles are considering an extension for J.J. Hardy and would like to limit the deal to two or three years. Hardy, 28, is hitting .304/.366/.532 in his contract year.
- Though teams have to conduct thorough searches for every managerial opening, interim boss Bob Melvin will remain Oakland’s permanent manager “barring something unforeseen,” according to Heyman.
As always, good reading from Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports...
- The Mets would listen to an offer for shortstop Jose Reyes if the suitor "bowled them over," according to Rosenthal's source, but they're not currently looking to trade him. Rosenthal says the Mets "might be growing more flexible" as to what they're willing to offer Reyes for an extension. The team initially hoped for three years and $45-50MM, which they now realize isn't happening. I can see Reyes getting a Jayson Werth-type contract on the open market, but 60% of the Mets' season remains.
- ESPN's Adam Rubin discussed the Reyes topic recently, writing "it now appears highly likely the Mets will keep Reyes at the trading deadline, take their chances trying to re-sign him as a free agent next offseason, then take the draft picks if he ends up elsewhere."
- Rosenthal says the Orioles want to discuss an extension with shortstop J.J. Hardy before season's end, and The Baltimore Sun's Jeff Zrebiec quotes Andy MacPhail on his aim to start talks before the All-Star break. The 28-year-old Hardy, who is hitting .287/.363/.473 on the season in 147 plate appearances, would be a nice two-year bridge to top prospect Manny Machado. Of course, Hardy's agent at LSW Baseball knows that his client could get more than two years on the open market if his client remains healthy and keeps hitting. If the O's do extend Hardy before July 31st, it will strengthen Sandy Alderson's position if he decides to move Reyes.
- Rosenthal believes the Blue Jays and Padres, both enduring losing streaks, will soon have to put aside notions of contending.
The latest from the AL East before the first-place Red Sox attempt to complete a sweep of the Yankees in New York...
- Red Sox first rounder Matt Barnes grew up rooting for the Yankees, according to Nicole Auerbach of the Boston Globe. Barnes is preparing to switch his allegiances and he doesn't expect the change to be too difficult, since he has "always respected" the Red Sox.
- Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports says he was wrong to question Tim Wakefield's place on the Boston roster earlier this spring. The knuckleballer has a 4.84 ERA with 4.3 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 through 48 1/3 innings this year and is a Hall of Famer in the eyes of Robinson Cano.
- Jim Callis of Baseball America gives the Orioles high marks on their draft, according to MASNsports' Steve Melewski. "They got the best pitcher in the draft and depth after that," Callis said. "They got tremendous quality and quantity."
- Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun says he would have interest in signing J.J. Hardy to a two-year extension if he were running the Orioles. Hardy has a .276/.346/.457 line 131 plate appearances into the season.
Chris Tillman allowed eight runs to the Royals without completing four innings today. Here's the latest on the O's, who had won six of their past nine heading into today's game in Kansas City...
- Alfredo Simon, now rehabbing while on the restricted list, will have to be promoted or released by May 22nd or so, according to Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun (on Twitter).
- Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail told Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com that the O's are building Simon up as a starter and open to putting him back in the bullpen later.
- The Orioles may have to remove someone from their active roster soon, as Robert Falkoff points out at MLB.com. J.J. Hardy is starting a rehab assignment tomorrow and it may not be long before the shortstop is ready to return, so MacPhail and the rest of the front office have a potential decision on the horizon.
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Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports brings us some interesting tidbits in this week's installment of Full Count..
- The Mets will not sign Jose Reyes to a monster contract similar to the one given to Carl Crawford (seven-years, $142MM). However, despite the Mets' financial troubles, keeping Reyes is not out of the question if he's willing to accept a shorter deal in the vicinity of three-years, $45-50MM. Reyes, if healthy, will get more than that on the open market but it's still not a sure thing that the club will deal him. They'll have to consider their position in the standings, how it would impact attendance, and what the return in a trade would be versus the high draft picks they would get if Reyes left via free agency.
- The Mets won't have to worry about Francisco Rodriguez finishing 55 games if they deal him to a club that would use him as a set-up man as opposed to a closer. The Rangers, for example, have Neftali Feliz (if healthy) to finish games. K-Rod can block deals to as many as ten clubs as part of his deal but the Mets, to facilitate this deal, would gladly pick up the $3.5MM buyout to get rid of him.
- Nationals manager Jim Riggleman is one of a handful of managers whose future is uncertain beyond this season. The club has yet to pick up his option for '12 even though most in the game say that the Nats are on the right track. Riggleman's agent told Rosenthal that he is hopeful that the club will either exercise the option or sign him to a multi-year deal by Father's Day.
- The Orioles collected a number of veterans on one-year deals thinking that, at the very least, they'd have trade chips at the deadline. General Manager Andy MacPhail & Co. may need to think again as Derrek Lee and Vladimir Guerrero have done very little at the plate and J.J. Hardy has missed most of the year with an oblique injury. All of this could change, but Rosenthal wonders if manager Buck Showalter and owner Peter Angelos would even approve of a sell-off.