Joe Thatcher Rumors

NL West Notes: Ramirez, Pence, Giants, Padres

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.


Braves Interested In Joe Thatcher

The Braves' search for left-handed relief help has led them to San Diego, as FOX Sports' Jon Morosi reports (via Twitter) that Atlanta is interested in Padres southpaw Joe Thatcher.

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 DuensingMLBTR's Steve Adams recently outlined some of the left-handed bullpen names who could fit as trade candidates.


Padres Avoid Arbitration With Thatcher, Cabrera

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.

Thatcher, a Platinum Sports client, had been projected by Matt Swartz to earn $1.1MM. Cabrera, a client of the Boras Corporation, had been projected to earn $1.2MM.

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.



West Notes: Dodgers, Giants, Angels, Padres

Here's a look at some news out of the AL and NL West..

Edward Creech contributed to this post.


Angels Interested In Mijares, Rzepczynski

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.


Players Avoiding Arbitration: Tuesday

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:

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Red Sox Have Explored Trades For Many Relievers

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 SportsRosenthal 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.


Brewers Trade For Scott Linebrink

According to MLB.com, the Brewers have acquired setup man Scott Linebrink for prospects Will Inman, Joe Thatcher, and Steve Garrison.  Let’s take a look at this deal.


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.