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Joaquin Benoit Rumors
Last night, the Tigers landed right-hander Joakim Soria from the Rangers in exchange for two of their top prospects — right-handers Jake Thompson and Corey Knebel. Detroit has long been said to be in pursuit of relief help, and they’ve now added one of the top bullpen arms on the market. Here are some reactions to the deal as well as a few additional bits of info about the Tigers’ trade talks…
- Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets that Soria was the Tigers’ primary bullpen target, and they didn’t pursue former Tiger Joaquin Benoit all that aggressively before landing Soria last night.
- Likewise, ESPN’s Jayson Stark tweets that the Tigers were never in on Philadelphia’s Jonathan Papelbon all that seriously.
- Soria himself is very excited to join the Tigers, agent Oscar Suarez old FOX Sports’ Jon Paul Morosi (Twitter link), specifically mentioning excitement over a chance to win. That excitement isnt surprising for Soria, who didn’t have much of an opportunity at the postseason early in his career with the Royals (he wasn’t with the club for their recent improvements).
- The Tigers have the prospect depth to add another relief arm if they wish, but it will depend on the asking price, writes Jason Beck of MLB.com. Beck notes that Detroit probably wishes to avoid too much long-term depth to the farm system, but he mentions Chad Qualls as a possibly more affordable option to pursue. Beck also reports that the initial asking price on Soria was higher than the one the Tigers ultimately wound up paying.
- ESPN’s Keith Law understands the deal for both Detroit and Texas (Insider subscription required and recommended). While the Tigers paid a steep price, he notes that Soria will be worth about an extra win over the remainder of the season and will be featured in some very high-leverage postseason innings. From Texas’ standpoint, they get a raw but projectable 20-year-old in Thompson who needs to learn to get more plane on his fastball and develop a changeup to succeed as a starter, plus a controllable potential seventh- or eighth-inning reliever in Knebel.
- Jim Callis of MLB.com “loves” the Rangers’ end of the deal, calling Thompson a potential No. 2 or 3 starter and noting that Knebel has closer upside (Twitter link).
- Soria’s value in the postseason could be significant, writes Fangraphs’ Dave Cameron. Cameron examines the usage of teams’ best relievers in last year’s playoffs, noting that while a typical elite reliever throws about five percent of his team’s innings during the regular season, that number increases in the playoffs due to more off days and the increased importance of late innings. The Red Sox used Koji Uehara for 9.6 percent of their postseason innings, which translates to about 140 innings during the regular season (a value of 246 innings when accounting for the increased leverage index).
- R.J. Anderson and Jordan Gorosh break down the trade over at Baseball Prospectus (subscription required/recommended). Anderson notes the steep price Detroit paid as well and wonders if the Tigers are done adding relievers. If Dave Dombrowski is serious about truly upgrading the bullpen (which he clearly seems to be), the Tigers should look to add another arm, Anderson opines. Meanwhile, Gorosh feels that Thompson could make an appearance on the back end of B-Pro’s offseason Top 101 prospects list, writing that he has the potential to be a “very strong No. 4 starter” and could have been the best pitching prospect in Detroit’s system (thereby implying that he likes him better than Robbie Ray).
The Tigers, Pirates and Indians are interested in Padres reliever Joaquin Benoit, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports. The Padres have already shipped out one reliever with closing experience, trading Huston Street to the Angels, but Heyman writes that Benoit will likely fetch a less attractive return, since teams generally view him as a setup man, not a closer.
Heyman notes that the Tigers or Pirates could use Benoit in the eighth inning, allowing Joe Nathan or Mark Melancon, respectively, to continue to close. (Those two teams are also interested in Joakim Soria of the Rangers, Heyman notes.) It isn’t yet clear whether the Indians will be buyers.
Benoit is owed $8MM next year plus $8MM or a $1.5MM buyout in 2016. His 2016 option will vest if he finishes at least 55 games in 2015. Benoit has a 2.04 ERA with 10.4 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9 in 39 2/3 innings with San Diego this year.
In today’s column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe wonders if the Red Sox will succumb to fan pressure and re-sign Jon Lester. Lester turned down a four-year, $70MM offer from the Red Sox in spring training and other clubs will almost certainly offer six- or seven-year deals if he reaches the open market. Boston, of course, doesn’t want to go that far. “If that’s your philosophy you can’t make exceptions or it will be viewed as a joke,” said one American League general manager. “If you vary from it, that sends a weak message to the baseball community, agents etc., when it comes with dealing with other players. I think the players themselves need to know where you stand as an organization, and if you keep deviating that sends the wrong message.” Here’s more from today’s column..
- The Mariners don’t mind dealing for Rays ace David Price without an agreement in place for a long-term deal, but that’s not the case for everyone. The Cardinals are interested in Price but would want a financial commitment, a major league source tells Cafardo. Cafardo cautions not to rule out the Giants, who also have had interest in Ben Zobrist.
- The Phillies have been discouraged by what they’re hearing from other teams on Cole Hamels. The Phillies consider him their biggest trade chip, but will hold on to him if they don’t get what they consider a fair deal. The Red Sox sent their top pitching scout to watch the hurler before the break and the Phillies have scouted Boston’s major and minor league teams all season. One major league source said if the Phillies get a taker on the full contract and they get three top prospects, he’s gone, and Hamels, according to another major league source, wouldn’t mind.
- Joaquin Benoit is one of the most sought after relievers on the market but a Padres official tells Cafardo that they won’t just give him away.
- Chad Qualls has resurrected his career with the Astros and teams are calling on him, according to a major league source. Houston left-hander Tony Sipp has also drawn interest.
- A.J. Pierzynski, who cleared waivers Friday, has told agent Steve Hilliard that he would like to continue playing.
- The Padres’ trade of Street shows about what they’ll expect in return for Joaquin Benoit, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports writes (Twitter links). Since most teams would not want Benoit to be their closer, though, the price would have to be somewhat lower than it was for Street.
- The Pirates and Royals both scouted starting pitcher Ian Kennedy last night, Rosenthal tweets. The Pirates are looking for starters and relievers, Rosenthal notes.
- The Blue Jays are part of an “ongoing dialogue” regarding Chase Headley, Rosenthal’s colleague Jon Morosi tweets. The Jays have shown interest in Headley in the past.
- The Padres are likely to trade outfielder Chris Denorfia, Morosi tweets. Denorfia, like Headley, is a free agent this coming offseason, so it makes sense that the Padres could have interest in trading them both.
- In case you missed it from the Yankees notes post, Andy Martino of New York Daily News reports that the Padres are not likely to trade Andrew Cashner, who was terrific this season before going on the disabled list with a shoulder injury. Cashner is not eligible for free agency until after the 2016 season.
11:10am: Morosi’s colleague, Ken Rosenthal, adds that the Tigers are also interested in Joaquin Benoit but are not actively pursuing Huston Street at this time (Twitter links). The Tigers, according to a rival executive with whom Rosenthal spoke, are interested in adding a reliever that doesn’t view himself as a pure closer, suggesting that a new acquisition may not supplant Nathan as the primary ninth-inning option.
The back end of the bullpen was a worry that Detroit GM Dave Dombrowski hoped not to have when he signed Joe Nathan this offseason, but the former Twins/Rangers stopper hasn’t pitched like himself in 2014. Nathan has posted a 5.61 ERA in 33 2/3 innings with the Tigers, and while his strikeout rate remains strong (9.4 K/9), his walks are up and his fastball is averaging a career-worst 91.7 mph. That velocity dip could have something to do with the increase in his home run rate and decrease in swinging-strike rate as well.
Soria, on the other hand, has been excellent in his first full season back from Tommy John surgery. The former Royals closer has turned in the best strikeout and walk rates of his career (11.9 K/9, 1.2 BB/9) en route to a 2.67 ERA and 16 saves in 30 1/3 innings of relief work.
An acquisition of Soria would give the Tigers an improved ninth-inning option not only for 2014 but also 2015, as his contract contains a $7MM club option ($500K buyout). Beyond that, Soria is highly affordable in 2014, as he’s earning just a $5.5MM salary, of which $2.19MM remains.
This would be the second straight season in which the Tigers have acquired bullpen help, should a deal come to fruition. However, the asking price on Soria will undoubtedly be higher than last year’s asking price for Jose Veras. Detroit sent Danry Vasquez and David Paulino to Houston in order to complete that deal.
The Rangers have reportedly been receiving a good deal of interest in their bullpen arms, and they’ve already shown a willingness to move veteran pieces by sending Jason Frasor to the Royals this week.
There were several notes yesterday on the Padres‘ search for a new GM. The club interviewed Rangers assistant GM A.J. Preller yesterday, reports MLB.com’s Corey Brock, joining prior candidates Larry Beinfest, Logan White of the Dodgers, Ray Montgomery of the Diamondbacks, and Billy Eppler of the Yankees. Today, the team had a sit-down with Red Sox assistant GM Mike Hazen, per Peter Gammons of GammonsDaily.com (via Twitter). Meanwile, Cardinals assistant GM Mike Girsch has withdrawn himself from consideration, per Bob Nightengale of USA Today (Twitter link). As Nightengale further tweets, some potential candidates have expressed a belief that it will take upwards of two to three years to effect a turnaround in San Diego.
Here’s the latest trade deadline chatter from the Friars and the rest of the NL West:
- The Padres are asking for a big return to move late-inning righties Joaquin Benoit and Huston Street, reports Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times (via Twitter). A reunion with the Tigers makes sense for Benoit, tweets Jon Morosi of FOX Sports, because the sides parted on good terms.
- The Dodgers are looking into the starting pitching market, particularly after losing Josh Beckett to the 15-day DL, reports Shaikin. Though Los Angeles hopes Beckett’s hip impingement will only cause him to miss one start (with the benefit of the All-Star break), the club is readying for a longer absence. Of course, Paul Maholm remains in the fold, and the club has fill-in options at Triple-A, but those appear to be temporary options. Shaikin says that the team lacks the kind of rotation depth that it would prefer, and could pursue either a depth arm (he gives Jake Peavy and Bartolo Colon as hypothetical examples) or a high-end pitcher such as David Price or Cole Hamels.
- Giants GM Brian Sabean says that his team is willing to consider any and all trade proposals, reports Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News. “We’ve told everybody that everybody we have is in play,” said the long-tenured GM. “There are no untouchables in our organization.” While he expressed a desire to be patient, he expressed consternation at the team’s recent struggles. “Unfortunately, we’ve leaked oil in a lot of areas,” said Sabean. “That further confuses what you think you might want to do or have to do in and around the trade deadline.” As far as where an addition could be made, Sabean indicated that many spots are in play: “All our prospects are in play, but at this point we need bullpen help, you can always use another starter, second base, bench help,” said Sabean. “Just a lot of areas where you need shoring up and obviously we’re not [going to] be able to do that totally in the trade market.”
- Last night, we took a look at some comments from Rockies owner Dick Monfort, courtesy of Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post. Notably, he said that he has no plans to deal star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki. This morning, Saunders posted the full transcript of his interview with Monfort, and there is plenty more to cover. Monfort says that the organization’s greatest need is starting pitching depth, and said he “would love to have another starting pitcher before the trade deadline,” preferably “somebody that we could have control of for a period of time.” The club had interest in acquiring Jeff Samardzija, but “the asking price was Eddie Butler and some other stuff,” which Monfort found too steep.
- Though Colorado has one of the worst records in the league, Monfort says that the team is not a seller, at least at this point. After weathering the injuries and a tough stretch in the schedule, he said that he is holding out hope that the Rockies can creep back into the wild card picture. Monfort said that he does not anticipate trading starter Jorge De La Rosa or outfielder Michael Cuddyer, who he “would like to figure out a way to keep” beyond this season.
The Independence Day trade that sent Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to the Athletics is definitely the top story of the day. When we polled MLBTR readers last week over which pitcher would be traded first, Hammel was the resounding top choice with 31.05% of readers picking the right-hander. Samardzija came in third with 16.19% of the vote. David Price (24.07%) was the only other pitcher to finish with over 10% of the vote, and it very well could have been Price headed to Oakland. Let’s focus our attention on some of the other rumors and notes of the day.
- Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports the Tigers are interested in re-acquiring Joaquin Benoit (via Twitter). Of course, Benoit is in the midst of a fantastic season with the Padres. He’s pitched to a 1.26 ERA with 10.09 K/9 and 1.77 BB/9.
- The Angels are also interested in Benoit according to Morosi (Twitter). It’s unclear if that interest remains after the acquisitions of Jason Grilli and Joe Thatcher.
- Morosi (also on Twitter) notes that the Cardinals, Blue Jays, and Giants are interested in Diamondbacks infielders. Veterans Aaron Hill and Martin Prado have been frequently connected to rumors, although the club does have additional shortstop depth too.
- Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com writes that the Twins are expected to make Josh Willingham and Kevin Correia available barring a sudden turnaround. Both players will be free agents after the season and aren’t good candidates for a qualifying offer. Willingham has been productive when healthy including a .228/.377/.441 batting line in 162 plate appearances this season. Heyman mentions the Red Sox and Mariners as two clubs in need of offense. To me, Correia looks more like a roster patch for a contender with his 4.95 ERA and 4.11 FIP.
- The Marlins made a club record number of moves in June writes MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro. A total of 45 transactions were made in June. The previous one-month record was 30 moves. July could bring more of the same for the Fish with Tom Koehler and Adeiny Hechavarria scheduled to return soon.
- Oft-injured Cardinals starter Jaime Garcia will undergo season ending surgery to address his thoracic outlet syndrome according to Derrick Goold and Joe Trezza of the St. Louis Post Dispatch. The club wasn’t counting on a return by Garcia, who has been on the disabled list since late June. The news provides additional incentive for the club to explore the trade market.
In his latest column, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reminds everyone why experienced foreigners like Yankees right-hander Masahiro Tanaka and White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu are considered eligible for Rookie of the Year awards. Of course, players like Abreu and Tanaka come with years of professional experience, but they still have to make a significant transition when it comes to the move to MLB, both professionally and culturally. Here’s more from Rosenthal..
- High school left-hander (and first overall draft choice) Brady Aiken reportedly arrived in Houston last Monday, which would indicate that an agreement was close, but a week later nothing has been announced and neither side is saying why. The holdup, Rosenthal says, bears a resemblance to the delays that occasionally occur in free agency when players fail physicals and teams try to rework deals. If indeed Aiken failed his physical, the Astros would have the right to offer him 40 percent of his signing bonus value, according to the new draft rules that were negotiated into the collective bargaining agreement in 2011. Of course, this is just speculation on Rosenthal’s part and only the parties involved know whether there is any kind of issue with Aiken’s physical.
- D’Backs outfielder and fan favorite Gerardo Parra might be among the least likely in Arizona to be traded. With A.J. Pollock and Mark Trumbo on the disabled list, a trade of the 27-year-old would leave the club short on experienced outfielders. It’s also unclear how much Parra would bring back in a trade. Parra is making $4.85MM in his third year of arbitration and amounts to little more than a platoon player, given his career .586 OPS against left-handers. Third baseman Martin Prado, earning $11MM per season through 2016, is another player the D’Backs might opt to keep, even though he has struggled at the plate as well. Second baseman Aaron Hill, meanwhile, is expendable given their surplus of middle infielders.
- It would be surprising if the Dodgers traded an outfielder considering the recent injury woes of Carl Crawford, Joc Pederson, and Andre Ethier.
- The Tigers didn’t re-sign Joaquin Benoit last winter because they didn’t want to pay him closer money, but he still makes sense for them as a mid-season pickup. The Padres reliever, who turns 37 in July, is owed about $3MM this season and $8MM next season with an $8MM team option or $1.5MM buyout for 2016.
- Jake Arrieta probably has the best stuff of any Cubs starter right now but, of course, Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel are more likely to be traded since Arrieta is under club control through 2017. Lefty Travis Wood, meanwhile, could be an extension candidate once the Cubs complete their rotation selloff.
The Padres have received a significant number of trade inquiries on late-inning relievers Huston Street and Joaquin Benoit, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Sitting ten games under .500 and having recently dismissed GM Josh Byrnes, San Diego certainly figures to be a seller.
As Heyman writes, Street and Benoit could be the team’s best trade deadline pieces. (It is worth noting that starter Ian Kennedy and third baseman Chase Headley might also bring strong returns.) The pair of righties has been outstanding: Street, 30, has let in less than one earned run per nine with 9.6 K/9 against 2.3 BB/9, while Benoit, 36, has a 1.42 ERA and an even more-sterling 10.5 K/9 versus 2.9 BB/9. And Street, in particular, has a fairly attractive contract, as he is owed $7MM this year and comes with a $7MM club option for 2015. (Neither player has no-trade protection, Heyman notes.)
All things considered, teams looking to bolster the back end of their bullpens may not find better options elsewhere. Clubs presently checking the market for late-inning relief, according to Heyman, include the Tigers, Angels, Blue Jays, Orioles, Brewers, and Marlins, with the Yankees, Twins, and Indians also potentially joining the mix.
The Twins have activated top prospect Byron Buxton from the 7-day disabled list, so he’ll soon make his 2014 debut, MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger explains. The Twins are sending him to Class A+ Fort Myers even though he hit .326/.415/.472 in a half-season at that level last year. “If he gets rolling and it looks like he’s in mid-season form and ready to go, we’ll move him up to [Double-A] New Britain where we planed to have him be,” says assistant GM Rob Antony. “He played his way out of this league last year but we’ll give him enough time here to get going.” MLB.com ranks Buxton the top overall prospect in baseball. Here are more notes from the AL Central.
- The White Sox claimed Moises Sierra from the Blue Jays in part because of injuries to outfielders Adam Eaton and Avisail Garcia, CSN Chicago’s Dan Hayes writes. “It’s another piece,” says manager Robin Ventura. “With Eaton going down, we’re light in the outfield area. You can have Leury (Garcia) go out there, but it adds another piece to us and being right-handed keeps us more balanced that way.”
- The White Sox are satisfied with Rule 5 pick Adrian Nieto‘s progress so far this year, Hayes writes. When the team selected Nieto from the Nationals last offseason, he had never played above the Class A+ level, but he’s held his own in 11 games so far in the big leagues, hitting .280/.280/.360. That includes three hits on Friday.
- In the wake of the Joel Hanrahan signing, John Lowe of the Detroit Free Press explains that the reason the Tigers did not simply keep Joaquin Benoit is that Benoit wanted “closer-type money,” and the Tigers were already paying Joe Nathan to be their closer. They also wanted Bruce Rondon to slot into a late-inning role.
Zach Links contributed to this post.