Joe Thatcher Rumors
The Dodgers have a thrown a wrench into the free agent outfield market by listening to trade offers for Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, and Carl Crawford, writes Jim Bowden of ESPN and MLB Network Radio in an Insider post (subscription required). Scott Boras is also a complicating factor, according to Bowden, because he represents the two top free agent outfielders Jacoby Ellsbury and Shin-Soo Choo (#2 and #3, respectively, on MLBTR's 2014 Top 50 Free Agents list). Bowden theorizes the other top-tier free agent outfielders may wait to sign in order to see how Boras sets the market for Ellsbury and Choo. In today's news and notes from the National League:
- Rockies owner Dick Monfort provided Troy E. Renck of the Denver Post with a detailed line-by-line budget for his franchise. Monfort explains how revenue from the new national TV contract is absorbed by payments on the club's MLB credit line, player raises, and projected revenue losses for not having home dates with the Yankees and Red Sox. Monfort estimates being able to reinvest only $4-5MM of the new TV money into the on-the-field product.
- Renck, via Sulia, agrees with the assessment of MLBTR's Tim Dierkes that the Ricky Nolasco contract resembles Edwin Jackson's. Renck believes the Rockies would have been paralyzed under their self-imposed budget constraints had they signed Nolasco, so their best option for a rotation upgrade is through a trade.
- The Mets will have interest in catcher Tyler Flowers, if he is non-tendered by the White Sox, tweets the New York Post's Mike Puma. Mets executives have liked Flowers in the past and see him as a potential backup to Travis d'Arnaud. Flowers, however, told Scott Merkin of MLB.com "(t)here have been a couple of conversations" with the White Sox about reaching an agreement to avoid arbitration. "I put it at 51-49 in favor of staying because of the contractual conversation we've had before," Flowers said. "They've reached out to me to try to see where each other is at. If they didn't care at all, they would have done nothing and non-tendered me."
- It would be a surprise if the Diamondbacks non-tender left-handed reliever Joe Thatcher because free agent bullpen arms aren't cheap, tweets Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca. Thatcher struggled after Arizona acquired him from San Diego in the Ian Kennedy trade to the tune of a 6.75 ERA, 6.8 K/9, 5.8 BB/9, and 11.6 H/9 in 9 1/3 innings (22 appearances).
- The Cubs will likely tender second baseman Darwin Barney, despite a career-worst season at the plate (.208/.266/.303 in 501 plate appearances), because the only realistic in-house replacement is Luis Valbuena, reasons MLB.com's Carrie Muskat. MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projects a $2.1MM arbitration salary for Barney and $1.5MM for Valbuena, who is playing second base in the Venezuelan Winter League.
- The Cardinals made the right move in signing Jhonny Peralta because they were able to upgrade a position of need while retaining their prized young arms, opines MLB.com's Richard Justice.
The Padres have bolstered their rotation for the present and future, acquiring righty Ian Kennedy from the division rival Diamondbacks for lefty reliever Joe Thatcher, Double-A reliever Matt Stites, and a compensation round B draft pick, according to a tweet from MLB.com's Corey Brock. It's a surprisingly light haul for Kennedy, a 28-year-old who is under team control through 2015 as an arbitration eligible player.
Drafted 21st overall by the Yankees in '06, Kennedy joined Arizona in the December 2009 three-team trade with the Yanks and Tigers, at a time when Josh Byrnes was the Diamondbacks' GM. Byrnes was fired the following year and later landed the GM job in San Diego, while Kevin Towers took over for Arizona. Clearly, Byrnes has an affinity for Kennedy, who tossed 624 1/3 regular season innings from 2010-12 with a 3.55 ERA and finished fourth in the NL Cy Young voting back in 2011. Kennedy's walk rate worsened this year, en route to a 5.23 ERA in 124 frames. His skills suggest something closer to 4.00 moving forward. As a fly-ball pitcher, Kennedy will likely benefit tremendously from leaving the hitter-friendly Chase Field to a more pitcher-friendly stadium in Petco Park.
Thatcher is a useful left-handed specialist who joined the Padres in a July 2007 trade brokered by Towers. The 31-year-old has a 2.10 ERA, 8.7 K/9, 1.2 BB/9, 0.90 HR/9, and 42.4% groundball rate in 30 innings this year. He's faced 70 lefty batters and held them to a .212/.257/.231 line. Earning $1.35MM this year, Thatcher is under team control through 2014 as an arbitration eligible player.
Stites, a 23-year-old reliever, has a 2.08 ERA, 8.8 K/9, 1.4 BB/9, and 1.04 HR/9 in 52 Double-A innings this year. Prior to the season Baseball America ranked the 5'11" Stites 27th among Padres prospects.
The draft pick headed to the D'Backs is San Diego's competitive balance lottery pick, which is the first pick of Comp Round B (between the second and third rounds). As such, it will likely fall in the 70 to 75 range; Comp Round B consisted of picks 69 to 73 in this year's draft. Those picks carried assigned values of between $808K and $759K, according to Baseball America.
Towers and the Diamondbacks clearly thought Kennedy to be expendable with Trevor Cahill and Brandon McCarthy on the mend and Archie Bradley in the minor leagues. Kennedy scored a near-record $4.265MM salary for 2013, his first arbitration year. MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projects a mild raise to the $5.9MM range for 2014, so there's a financial element to the trade as well. Still, it seems to be an underwhelming return for a pitcher with Kennedy's upside, even in a down season.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
The latest on the Padres, who host the Reds today 20 minutes prior to the trade deadline...
- The Padres are done and will not trade Gregerson, tweets Jim Bowden.
- The Padres will probably not trade Gregerson after moving Joe Thatcher in the Ian Kennedy deal, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.
- The Pirates and Red Sox are two of the teams sniffing on Gregerson, tweets Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe.
- The Padres are more likely to trade lefty reliever Joe Thatcher than righty Luke Gregerson, tweets ESPN's Jayson Stark, and they're saying no to deals for any of their outfielders.
Less than one day remains until the trade deadline, and relievers have been the most moved commodity in recent days, with Scott Downs, Jose Veras, Jesse Crain and Marc Rzepczynski all changing teams. Here's more on the relief market...
- The Tigers remain open to adding relief help and have expressed interest in Javier Lopez, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (on Twitter). It seems that Detroit isn't necessarily set in the bullpen department after adding Veras yesterday.
- Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer tweets that the Indians called the Giants about Lopez but the talks ended quickly when San Francisco asked for top prospect Danny Salazar in return.
- The Padres are listening on both Luke Gregerson and Joe Thatcher, but they'd need to be "inspired" to move either pitcher, according to ESPN's Buster Olney (Twitter link).
- Andy Martino of the New York Daily News reported earlier today the Red Sox still consider bullpen help as a high priority (Twitter link). However, the team acquired Jake Peavy and Brayan Villarreal earlier tonight, so that may no longer be a need. Villarreal could slot into Boston's bullpen, and the Sox could also push Brandon Workman to the bullpen, as Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe noted (on Twitter).
Closer Jonathan Papelbon is dissatisfied with the Phillies' current direction, MLB.com's Todd Zalecki reports. In the midst of an eight-game losing streak, Philadelphia has fallen to seven games below .500, and that's not what Papelbon anticipated when he signed with the Phils. "I definitely didn't come here for this," he says. He also doesn't sound optimistic when asked about the Phillies' future. "Oh man," he says. "We could be here all day."
Papelbon is of the opinion that the Phillies need to undergo an overhaul, similar to that of his former team, the Red Sox (whose overhaul, ironically, included losing Papelbon to free agency). He says he does not want to be traded, but adds that he does not want to stay in Philadelphia if his team continues on the same path.
- The Tigers and Rangers have discussed the possibility of a deal that would send Joe Nathan to Detroit, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports tweets. Right now, though, the Rangers are asking a lot, and Morosi says there is "no momentum toward a deal." As MLBTR's Aaron Steen noted yesterday, Joakim Soria could close for the Rangers if Nathan were to depart. The Rangers could target the Tigers' current setup man, Drew Smyly, if they were to deal Nathan, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports.
- The Tigers are not trying to trade for Papelbon, Morosi tweets, but Luke Gregerson of the Padres is a possibility (Twitter links).
- The Padres and Brewers are the top sellers for bullpen arms, CBSSports.com's Danny Knobler reports. The Padres can offer Gregerson and Joe Thatcher, while the Brewers have John Axford and Mike Gonzalez. The Astros, meanwhile, could deal Jose Veras or Wesley Wright, while the Angels could move Scott Downs.
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.
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.