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Joe Thatcher Rumors
Just over a year ago, the Dodgers announced their presence as big-money acquirers by trading for infielder Hanley Ramirez. While Ramirez has battled injury at times, he has certainly re-established himself as a top-line big leaguer with a .315/.367/.544 line to go with 21 home runs and 14 stolen bases in the last year. As ESPN's Mark Saxon explains, Ramirez has seemed energized since donning Dodger blue and has been on fire since returning from a DL stint in early June. He remains under team control for 2014 at a cost of $16MM. On the other hand, the primary piece that Los Angeles shipped out to acquire Ramirez – pitcher Nathan Eovaldi — has been solid so far in Miami. The 23-year-old currently owns a 3.54 ERA in 40 2/3 MLB innings. Here's more out of the NL West..
- The Giants will listen to offers on Hunter Pence, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. At this stage of the season, the club believes that they have to be open to everything. San Francisco certainly likes Pence and wants to keep him long term, but with a lack of offense out there, they could get a very strong return for him. It was recently reported that the Rangers have interest in acquiring Pence.
- Padres stars Chase Headley, Carlos Quentin, and Huston Street are likely to stay in San Diego but it appears that Luke Gregerson will be changing uniforms, writes Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.
- After Gregerson and Chris Denorfia, the Padres getting the most interest are Street, left-handed reliever Joe Thatcher, and outfielder/first baseman Jesus Guzman, writes Bill Center of U-T San Diego.
- The Giants are searching for their identity as the deadline approaches, writes MLB.com's Andrew Owens. Manager Bruce Bochy has instructed his players to tune out the trade rumors between now and July 31st.
Jeff Todd contributed to this post.
Thatcher, 31, has one remaining year of arbitration eligibility and is a free agent following the 2014 season. The left-hander has a 2.25 ERA and 28 strikeouts (against just four walks) over 28 innings for the Padres this season. Thatcher has held left-handed hitters to only a .456 OPS this season and for his career, Thatcher has held lefty batters to a .581 OPS.
Mike Gonzalez, James Russell and Wesley Wright have been the lefty relievers rumored to be atop the Braves' wish list, and the club has also been linked to Phil Coke and Brian Duensing. MLBTR's Steve Adams recently outlined some of the left-handed bullpen names who could fit as trade candidates.
The Padres avoided arbitration with Joe Thatcher and Everth Cabrera, agreeing to one-year deals in advance of Friday’s filing deadline, Corey Brock of MLB.com reports (on Twitter). Thatcher obtains a $1.35MM salary, while Cabrera will earn $1.275MM.
MLBTR's Arb Tracker shows that the Padres now have five remaining arbitration-eligible players: John Baker, Luke Gregerson, Chase Headley, Clayton Richard, and Edinson Volquez. They avoided arbitration with Will Venable two days ago.
Here's a look at some news out of the AL and NL West..
- The Dodgers are letting teams know that shortstop Dee Gordon is available, tweets Bob Nightengale of the USA Today. Gordon could represent a fallback option for teams who lose out on Stephen Drew. Earlier today, we learned five teams are in on Drew.
- The Giants are looking for a center fielder and are talking to Michael Bourn, Angel Pagan, and Shane Victorino, tweets CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman.
- The Angels are aren't acting like they're confident of landing Zack Greinke, writes Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times. The Angels seem to be trolling for much cheaper starting pitching options like Ryan Dempster and Shaun Marcum, as opposed to Anibal Sanchez and Kyle Lohse.
- The Dodgers' shopping list includes Greinke, a fourth outfielder that can play center, and a backup corner infielder, according to MLB.com's Ken Gurnick. Gurnick also says negotiations continue with lefty reliever Randy Choate.
- Padres GM Josh Byrnes doesn't expect to be very busy during the Winter Meetings, reports Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune. "I expect to do one thing, maybe two," said Byrnes. "I’m not expecting to do a lot. We’re filling the holes, not roster reshaping." The Padres are looking for starting pitching and have depth at the corner outfield slots, in the bullpen, and at middle infield. The names most often mentioned as possible trade chips, according to Center, are Luke Gregerson, Joe Thatcher, and Jesus Guzman.
- The Rangers are interested in talking with the Mets about R.A. Dickey at the Winter Meetings this week, a source tells T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com. The Rangers aren't alone in having interest in the knuckleballer as the Mets have taken calls from six or seven teams looking to swing a trade. The Mets are expected to look for outfield help and catching in a deal.
- The Rockies are considering a run at left-hander Daniel Schlereth as they look to improve their bullpen, according to Thomas Harding of MLB.com. The 26-year-old became a free agent this week when he was non-tendered by the Tigers.
- The Rockies are looking to restore their rotation, but not rebuild it entirely, writes Patrick Saunders of The Denver Post. The club will look to bolster their starting five with a veteran presence and they are known to have interest in free agent right-hander Kevin Correia.
Edward Creech contributed to this post.
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The Angels have expressed interest in Jose Mijares of the Royals and Marc Rzepczynski of the Cardinals in their search for a left-handed reliever, Mike DiGiovanna of the LA Times reports (Twitter links). The Angels could also have some interest in Joe Thatcher of the Padres, DiGiovanna suggests.
Mijares, 27, has a 1.72 ERA with 8.6 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9 in 36 2/3 innings with the Royals so far in 2012. The midseason trade candidate earns $925K this year and will be arbitration eligible following the season.
Rzepczynski was traded to the Cardinals last summer in the deal that sent Edwin Jackson to St. Louis. The 26-year-old has a 5.06 ERA with 6.2 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9 in 32 innings this year. He'll be arbitration eligible for the first time following the 2012 season.
The Angels, who currently have left-handers Scott Downs and Hisanori Takahashi pitching out of the bullpen, are willing to offer Peter Bourjos in a trade for the right reliever. Here's MLBTR's preview of the trade market for left-handed relief.
Dozens of arbitration eligible players have agreed to deals with their respective teams today and we've been tracking all of the developments right here. Several teams, including the Rays, Nationals, Marlins, White Sox, Blue Jays, Braves, and perhaps Astros, are known for committing to going to hearings if they get to the point of filing. Keep track of all the madness with MLBTR's arbitration tracker, which shows settlement amounts, filing figures, and midpoints. Today's players to avoid arbitration on deals worth less than $4MM:
- The Cardinals avoided arbitration with pitcher Kyle McClellan, tweets B.J. Rains of FOX Sports Midwest. Joe Strauss of The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports (on Twitter) that the one-year deal is worth $2.5MM with incentives based on starts. MLBTR projected a $2.7MM for the Steve Comte client.
- MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith reports (on Twitter) that the Padres and Chase Headley agreed to a one-year deal worth $3.475MM, avoiding arbitration. Earlier this evening, the Padres announced that they avoided arbitration with Luke Gregerson, Edinson Volquez, Carlos Quentin and Will Venable. They also avoided arbitration with lefty reliever Joe Thatcher on a deal worth $700K, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. CAA announced catcher John Baker has signed for $750K. Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune first reported that the Padres reached agreements with Hundley, Chase Headley, and Tim Stauffer. Hundley will earn $2MM in 2012, MLB.com's Corey Brock tweets. Dan Hayes of the North County Times tweets the salaries for Volquez ($2.2375MM), Venable ($1.475MM), Gregerson ($1.55MM)
- The Rangers avoided arbitration with Matt Harrison, tweets Evan Grant of The Dallas Morning News. The ACES client gets $2.95MM on a one-year deal. MLBTR had projected a $2.9MM salary.
- The Cubs announced that they have avoided arbitration with Jeff Baker ($1.375MM), Blake DeWitt ($1.1MM), Ian Stewart ($2.237MM) Chris Volstad ($2.655MM), and Randy Wells ($2.705MM). MLB.com's Carrie Muskat tweeted the salary figures.
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FRIDAY, 1:03am: Theo Epstein has discussed multiple possible trades with former Red Sox assistant GM and current Padres GM Jed Hoyer, according to Peter Abraham and Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. The Globe duo believes Boston could have interest in a reliever like Joe Thatcher, and, given the team's excess of outfielders when Jacoby Ellsbury returns, they may match up with San Diego.
THURSDAY, 12:59pm: Though they're on his no-trade list, the Red Sox asked the Brewers about Trevor Hoffman, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Rosenthal adds that the Brewers are not inclined to move Hoffman. Meanwhile they're getting calls on Carlos Villanueva and Todd Coffey.
12:05pm: The Red Sox are leaving no rock unturned in their search for relief help. They've explored Rafael Perez, Will Ohman, Mike Gonzalez, Matt Capps, Michael Wuertz, Craig Breslow, Sean Marshall, Kerry Wood, David Aardsma, and Kyle Farnsworth, reports Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. Cafardo says Scott Downs looks unlikely unless the Blue Jays back down from their top prospect requests. On a related note, SI's Jon Heyman tweets that the Jays asked the Mets for outfield prospect Kirk Nieuwenhuis and one other player for Downs and were denied.
Marshall is the interesting name here. The 27-year-old lefty has had a dominant year in relief, posting a 1.71 ERA, 10.4 K/9, and 2.9 BB/9 in 52.6 innings with one home run allowed. He's been especially strong against lefties. Marshall is under team control through 2012 and would presumably be very difficult to pry loose from the Cubs. Gonzalez is another surprising name, since he's spent most of the season on the shelf with a shoulder injury and is still owed good money.
Cafardo adds that the Red Sox have been shopping reliever Ramon Ramirez, and offers the opinion that a National League team might want to take a look at him. Ramirez has a 4.57 ERA, 6.5 K/9, and 3.3 BB/9 in 41.3 innings with six home runs allowed and is a potential non-tender candidate after the season.
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Linebrink turns 31 in early August. Trade rumors swirled around him this offseason, especially involving the Phillies. His strikeout and walk numbers over the past three seasons have been consistent. However, in 2006 his less controllable numbers like hits allowed and home runs spiked somewhat. He was still worth a good 3-4 wins last year according to Baseball Prospectus.
However, Linebrink fell off a cliff this year. From Day 1 his strikeout rate has been way down; he’s allowed a ton of home runs. You almost have to wonder whether he’s healthy. He got by for the first two months with the reduced strikeout rate, but it caught up to him in June and especially July. Even as a seventh inning guy his value is very questionable. The Crew should recoup a draft pick or two when he leaves after the season, so that’s something.
My trusty Baseball America Handbook tells me that 20 year-old righty Inman is clearly the jewel of the trade. He’s a tough competitor; his 1.71 ERA in Low A ball last year was ridiculous. He does not offer dazzling stuff or projectability, however. He succeeds on the strength of his command and breaking stuff rather than velocity. He breezed through High A this year, posting a 1.72 ERA in 13 starts.
However, Baseball Prospectus’ Kevin Goldstein questioned how his "below-average stuff and elite-level command" would play at Double A. The results in his first eight starts at that level have been mixed at best. He’s taken a couple of shellackings, but has looked solid in his last three efforts. Goldstein wonders whether he may be a Yusmeiro Petit type, a guy who used deception to post some great minor league numbers despite mediocre stuff. Petit fooled the Marlins enough for the Mets to snag Carlos Delgado, at least.
Inman is very young for Double A; put him in PETCO in 2009 and I don’t see why he can’t keep his ERA under 5. Doesn’t blow you away but innings eaters are fetching $8MM annually these days. Great move by Kevin Towers, because he won’t miss Linebrink. He can’t lose.
Didn’t know much about the other two prospects. Thatcher is a 25 year-old southpaw reliever, another guy with average stuff. The results have been excellent through Triple A though. He’s got a cut fastball, sweeping slider, and fine control. He was ranked 23rd among Brewers prospects by Baseball America.
Garrison is a 21 year-old southpaw starter, ranked 27th on the Brewers’ list. He’s working in High A currently. He too has average stuff without great velocity, another command guy. See a theme here? The pitchers plucked by Kevin Towers don’t light up radar guns or make scouts drool, but still look like big league contributors.
You have to give this one to Towers, who traded from a position of strength to snag three pitchers known less for projection than probability.