Joey Gallo Rumors

Rangers, Astros, Dodgers In Mix For Cole Hamels

Though Cole Hamels hasn’t performed well over his past two starts, trade interest in him doesn’t appear to be dying down. Despite previous comments that put a damper on the Hamels-to-Rangers rumors for awhile, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports that the Rangers are “very much involved” in trade talks for Hamels, and they appear to be bidding about the Astros. That’s not the only Rangers/Hamels connection, either; Jon Heyman of CBS Sports tweets that the Dodgers are the name he hears linked to Hamels most frequently, but the Rangers closely follow them.

Grant writes that while the Rangers do want to bolster their 2015 chances, a Hamels acquisition would be made with an eye toward pairing him atop their rotation with Yu Darsish in 2016-17. The Rangers have been said to dislike the notion of paying Hamels $23.5MM annually, so it seems likely that they’d ask for some kind of financial compensation, especially if they’re to part with top prospects in the deal. Joey Gallo wouldn’t exchange hands in a Hamels deal, Grant notes, listing outfielder Nomar Mazara and the injured-but-still-vaunted catching prospect Jorge Alfaro as likelier options. (Chi Chi Gonzalez‘s name has also come up in speculative rumors in the past.)

Grant doesn’t get any indication of what the Astros might be willing to offer, but GM Jeff Luhnow has been vocal about acquiring a pitcher that could pitch in the first game or two of a playoff series. Hamels would fit that bill. Houston’s reportedly more comfortable parting with right-hander Mark Appel than with top outfield prospect Brett Phillips, and the team is said to be highly resistant to the idea of trading right-hander Lance McCullers. Even beyond McCullers, Phillips and the of-course-off-limits Carlos Correa, however, the Astros have a deep farm system that got even deeper with what most praised as a highly successful draft. While the players selected in this year’s draft are, of course, ineligible to be traded, the influx of talent might make Houston a bit more comfortable moving some of its preexisting young talent.

The Dodgers/Hamels connection has been persistent over the past few months. Los Angeles clearly has the financial wherewithal to absorb Hamels’ contract in its entirety, if the Phillies wish to go that route, though doing so would lessen the return that Philadelphia received in terms of prospects. To this point, it’s been reported that neither Corey Seager or Julio Urias is available in trades, and Peter Gammons reported yesterday that the Dodgers are also loath to part with promising young catcher Austin Barnes or right-hander Jose De Leon, whose stock continues to rapidly rise (both ESPN’s Keith Law and Baseball America ranked him among the game’s Top 25 prospects on their midseason updates.)


Josh Hamilton Out Four Weeks With Hamstring Strain

Newly-activated Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton is expected to miss a full month after being diagnosed with a Grade 2 hamstring strain, Anthony Andro of FOX Sports Southwest was among those to report (Twitter link). The slugger returned to Texas in a complicated recent deal with the Angels.

Hamilton, 34, was off to a fantastic start in his return to Texas, sporting a .273/.385/.636 batting line with two long balls in his first 26 plate appearances. With the rest of the lineup clicking, the Rangers suddenly looked like the powerhouse offense of seasons past.

Now, Hamilton joins the outstanding Adrian Beltre on the shelf. Of course, that combination of maladies — neither of which looks to be serious concerns in the long run — has also created an opportunity for top prospect Joey Gallo.

The Rangers will need to do some roster juggling, but have plenty of options. Importantly, Hamilton’s power left-handed bat was already accompanied by a combination of Gallo, Prince Fielder, Mitch Moreland, and Shin-soo Choo in corner positions. Gallo and Moreland have both spent time in the outfield, and could see time there, while the club can also utilize speedsters Leonys Martin and Delino DeShields Jr. in that capacity.

Jake Smolinski is also on the active roster for another right-handed-hitting option, joining DeShields in that regard. And the rehabbing Ryan Rua is about two weeks away from a return, Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram tweets, providing another a righty bat. Kyle Blanks is also injured, and seems a bit further off.

Texas could also ultimately elect to bring back struggling second baseman Rougned Odor, though the team has indicated that it wants to see him get back on track at Triple-A. For the time being, Hanser Alberto is hitting well in his very first MLB action, and DeShields might also be utilized at his old position.

All said, an outside addition seems rather unlikely given the array of possibilities. But there will probably be more roster movement over the coming weeks for an organization that has paced the league in use of the DFA over the past year or so (due in large part to a nearly incomprehensible volume of pitching injuries).

From a transactional perspective, the biggest impact probably relates to the much-hyped Gallo, who was not previously expected to see big league time this soon. He has impressed in his first two games at the big league level, swatting two long balls (including one off lefty Zach Duke tonight) and creating plenty of excitement.

If Gallo can entrench himself on the roster, he has a plausible shot at earning enough service time to set himself up as a Super Two candidate down the road. Starting from his call-up yesterday, he can rack up as many as 124 days of big league time this year, which has been enough in some (but not most) recent seasons.

Odor, too, could see a similar impact if the loss of Hamilton frees up a place for him to return. He entered the year with 144 days of service, making him a likely Super Two, but a lengthy optional assignment would jeopardize his ability to qualify for an additional year of arbitration.


AL Notes: Gallo, Plouffe, Rondon, Mariners

The Rangers made an aggressive move in bringing up top prospect Joey Gallo, even if it promises to be short-lived, and Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News discusses what it means. It could be that the club truly believes that Gallo is ready, in spite of the fact that his huge power has been accompanied by a sizable strikeout rate. More likely, as GM Jon Daniels suggested, is that the big league club can not only use Gallo for the interim, but provides a good current environment for him to get his first taste of the bigs. “The deciding factor was that we are really confident in the environment, the culture and the clubhouse,” Daniels explained. “It’s a good spot for a young player. We have a lot of confidence in our staff and in the value sitting next to Adrian Beltre and Prince Fielder and learning.”

  • Twins third baseman Trevor Plouffe is off to a nice start, sporting a 135 wRC+ at the plate and continuing to look like at least an average defender at third after struggling earlier in his career. While Miguel Sano is waiting in the wings, he could still end up moving off of the hot corner. Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN wonders (Twitter link) whether there is an extension format that would make sense for both Minnesota and Plouffe. He should be in line for a hefty raise over his $4.8MM salary, and can be controlled for the 2017 season as well, meaning that the club would likely need to plunk some really money down to get a deal done.
  • Righty Bruce Rondon is finally nearing activation for the Tigers, which presents some welcome roster complications, as James Schmehl of MLive.com reports. Detroit will certainly hope that Rondon and his big-time stuff can help anchor the club’s pen at some point this year, but Schmehl says it’s possible he won’t head straight to the big leagues even when he’s ready physically. The three candidates for demotion — Angel Nesbitt, Alex Wilson, and Al Alburquerque — all have options, so there’s plenty of flexibility.
  • While it’s not clear how much urgency there is at this point on the calendar, the Mariners are “trying” to add an arm, Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune tweets in response to a reader. Seattle’s staff has produced middle-of-the-road results on the whole, but some notable struggles (Taijuan Walker and Fernando Rodney both have allowed over six earned runs per nine) and injuries (Hisashi Iwakuma and James Paxton) have opened some space for an addition.


Rangers To Promote Joey Gallo

The Rangers will promote power-hitting third base prospect Joey Gallo to the big league roster tomorrow, GM Jon Daniels tells the Ben & Skin Show on CBS Dallas Fort-Worth (h/t Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News, Twitter links).

Mar 2, 2015; Surprise, AZ, USA; Texas Rangers third baseman Joey Gallo (70) poses for a portrait during Photo Day at Surprise Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Daniels stressed in his comments that the move is designed only to be a short-term patch. In announcing the move, executive VP of communications noted that Gallo will occupy an active roster spot created by placing Adrian Beltre on the 15-day DL with a sprain and laceration on his left thumb.

Gallo was on the prospect map prior last year, owing to his unmatched raw power, but show up the charts when he put it into action with a monster age-20 season. He hit 21 home runs apiece at High-A and Double-A, splitting his time about evenly between those levels. Of course, Gallo’s overall batting line was far superior at the lower level, and he struck out a troubling 115 times in his 291 plate appearances for Frisco.

While injury delayed his start to 2015, he’s only delivered more promise since healing. Gallo continues to deliver plenty of pop after starting the year back at Double-A, and has improved his plate discipline rather markedly (16.4% BB vs. 33.6% K, as opposed to the 12.4% BB vs. 39.5% K he put up in the last half of 2014).

Contact and strikeout rates are still a significant concern for Gallo’s long-term outlook, of course, but he as things stand he is walking at a healthy rate and squaring up enough balls to provide plenty of value. Whether he can stick at third is also something of a question: he is said to have an outstanding arm, but sub-par range.

He’s far from a sure thing, the upside is tremendous. Indeed, Gallo is a consensus top-ten prospect leaguewide. While Texas appears inclined only to give him a taste of the big leagues, a hot start would make it hard to drop him back to the minors (though his left-handed bat doesn’t have an obvious role with Mitch Moreland performing and Josh Hamilton now in the fold).

Given their plans, the Rangers are probably not terribly concerned with Gallo’s service time status. Even if he does stay on the active roster all year, he probably would not be set up to qualify for Super Two status. And while all service accumulated this year will force Texas to wait longer next year in order to preserve an additional season of club control, the Rangers have other corner options (particularly, left-handed hitting ones) — and good reason to allow Gallo to further develop.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Quick Hits: McFarland, Hamels, Olivera

Many players grow up as fans of the game, but once they sign with a pro team, the nature of their fandom changes, FanGraphs’ David Laurila writes. “Once you sign a contract, you have a team of your own,” says Orioles reliever T.J. McFarland, who grew up a fan of the White Sox. “My family still roots for the White Sox, but I went from being a fan to an employee – an actual worker – within the profession.” Of course, the associations they had with veteran players they rooted for as kids don’t just disappear. McFarland says he took pride in playing opposite Mark Buehrle and Paul Konerko, and says he found it “surreal” when he faced Derek Jeter. Here’s more from throughout the league.

  • Earlier today, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reported that the Yankees had come closer than any other team to acquiring Phillies star Cole Hamels. If that’s true, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman writes, that might mean the Phillies haven’t come close to dealing Hamels to any team, because the two sides have not had discussions recently and never were near a deal. The Phillies are fans of Yankees prospects Luis Severino and Aaron Judge, but the Yankees likely don’t want to trade Severino in a Hamels deal. The Red Sox, meanwhile, have refused to deal Mookie Betts or Blake Swihart for Hamels. The Rangers are another possibility, but they too appear disinclined to trade their top prospects, including Joey Gallo and Jorge Alfaro.
  • Cliff Lee‘s recent bout of elbow soreness demonstrates the risk the Phillies are taking with Hamels, Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com writes. Each time Hamels pitches, he could get injured, causing his trade value to decrease or simply vanish.
  • It’s wise to be skeptical of reports suggesting Cuban infielder Hector Olivera will get $70MM or more, FanGraphs’ Kiley McDaniel writes. That says more about Olivera’s representative Rudy Santin’s use of the media than about Olivera’s actual market. Finding comparables for a Cuban player with no MLB experience is difficult, so it’s hard for the U.S. media to be appropriately skeptical of reported offers for a player like Olivera, McDaniel argues. McDaniel says he would be surprised if Olivera topped $50MM.

Prospect Notes: Nix, Montero, Barnes, Buxton, Meyer

Toronto will host the Pan American Games this summer from July 11 to July 19, writes Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. Team USA could field a potent roster headlined by Byron Buxton, Addison Russell, Corey Seager, and others. To be eligible, players cannot be on a 40-man roster. They also need permission from their parent club to participate. Each team is different, but some will probably allow their top prospects to attend. Rangers prospect Joey Gallo could be among the players asked to participate, and GM Jon Daniels likes the idea of his players competing internationally. One wrinkle to watch: the Futures Game takes place on July 12.

Here are more prospect notes from around the league:

  • Pitcher Jacob Nix could be a late first round pick in the upcoming Rule 4 draft, reports Keith Law of ESPN.com (Insider required). You may recall Nix’s part in Houston’s Brady Aiken fiasco – he was the player who lost a $1.5MM bonus when Aiken failed to sign. Without Aiken’s expected under slot signing bonus, the club didn’t have the funds to honor Nix’s deal without losing 2015 draft picks and money. Nix is now pitching with IMG Academy, a post-graduate team in Bradenton, Florida.
  • Of the prospects in Mets camp, Rafael Montero is the most likely to make the major league roster, writes Anthony DiComo of MLB.com. The club has plenty of starting pitchers, but they could use Montero out of the bullpen. Others like Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz will look to make a strong impression while at the big league camp. Remember, an opening day assignment to the majors can affect when a player reaches arbitration or free agency.
  • Due to depth at the major league level, the Red Sox aren’t expected to add a prospect to their opening day roster. However, hard throwing righty Matt Barnes could be among the first called up, writes Ian Browne of MLB.com. Barnes pitched a few innings out of the bullpen last season, so he’s already on the 40-man roster. Another prospect with brief major league experience, Garin Cecchini, will work on improving his defensive versatility.
  • The Twins will welcome number one prospect Buxton to their major league camp for the second time, writes Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com. However, it’s 29th ranked prospect Alex Meyer who has the best chance to break camp with the club. The giant righty will compete for a spot in the rotation, although he’ll face competition from Tommy Milone, Mike Pelfrey, Tim Stauffer, and Trevor May.

Rangers Notes: Upton, Andrus, Gallo, Alfaro

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports has the latest on the Rangers (all Twitter links):

  • The Rangers have spoken to the Braves about Justin Upton, echoing a recent report by the New York Post’s Joel Sherman, but the current focus for Texas is pitching.
  • The Rangers are willing to deal any of their shortstops, but Elvis Andrus is the least likely to be moved because the team believes 2015 will be a big season for the 26-year-old.
  • The Rangers are open to trading their better prospects rather than spend big money on free agents. Rosenthal, however, notes Joey Gallo and Jorge Alfaro (the club’s top two prospects, per MLB.com) are considered untouchable.

 


Joey Gallo Changes Agents

Top Rangers prospect Joey Gallo has left the Legacy Agency for Wasserman Media Group, MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes tweets. Wasserman currently represents big-name clients like Yasiel Puig, Giancarlo Stanton, Hanley Ramirez, Chase Utley and Javier Baez. Still, Gallo’s move is a big one for his new agency — MLB.com currently ranks the third baseman the No. 6 prospect in baseball.

Gallo has raced through the minors since being drafted in the first round in 2012, hitting 40 homers between Class A+ Myrtle Beach and Double-A Frisco as a 20-year-old in 2014, with an overall line of .271/.394/.615. He does have weaknesses — those 40 home runs came with 179 strikeouts, suggesting that it might be difficult for him to harness his power in the Majors. Still, his raw power is hard to top.


West Notes: Liriano, Gallo, Rockies

The Padres will promote top outfield prospect Rymer Liriano on Monday, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. Liriano hasn’t made many lists of top prospects throughout the game, but Baseball America’s Prospect Handbook 2014 named him the Padres’ sixth-best prospect heading into the season, praising his five-tool potential, even after he missed the 2013 campaign due to Tommy John surgery. Since then, the 23-year-old has attracted attention with a solid performance at Double-A San Antonio and a ridiculous outburst in a small sample with Triple-A El Paso, in which he’s hit .467/.536/.683 in his first 69 plate appearances. Here are more notes from the West divisions.

  • The Rangers will not promote top prospect Joey Gallo this season, ESPN’s Jim Bowden tweets. The 20-year-old is hitting .255/.347/.568 for Double-A Frisco after putting up even more ridiculous numbers earlier this season at Class A+ Myrtle Beach, and he wowed fans at this year’s Futures Game. But it sounds like we’ll have to wait until 2015 before we see him hit home runs in Arlington. He’s struck out more than three times for every walk so far at Double-A, and he has no Triple-A experience, so there could be merit to allowing him to spend at least a couple more months in the minors.
  • The Rockies should make seven moves to vault themselves into contention in 2015, ESPN Insider’s Jim Bowden writes. FanGraphs’ Paul Swydan recently wrote an article with a similar theme, but very different suggestions, and it’s interesting to compare the two pieces. Some of Bowden’s suggestions (like trading Kyle Parker and DJ LeMahieu to Minnesota for Brian Dozier, or dealing Brett Anderson and prospect Raimel Tapia to the Red Sox for Mookie Betts) seem a bit far-fetched, but they’re good springboards for discussion, and figuring out how to fix a 45-71 team in short order isn’t an easy exercise.

AL West Notes: Preller, Gallo, Johnson, A’s

The AL West has three teams on pace for postseason play and is home to the two best records in baseball.  The 59-36 A’s hold a slim lead over the 57-37 Angels, while the Mariners’ 51-44 record gives them a 2.5 edge over the Royals and Blue Jays for the second AL wild card slot.  On the flip side, Houston (40-56) and Texas (38-57) hold the American League’s two worst records, with the Rangers’ eight-game losing streak dropping them to worst record in the game.

Here’s the latest from around the AL West…

  • Rangers assistant GM A.J. Preller will receive a second interview for the Padres‘ general manager job, Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News reports.  Of the dozen or so candidates known to have interviewed for the job, Preller is thought to be the first to receive a second meeting with San Diego’s upper management team.
  • Also from Fraley, he notes that the Rangers are projected to draw around 400,000 fewer fans than last season, and he speculates this drop in attendance could impact the club’s 2015 payroll.
  • Joey Gallo‘s power was the talk of yesterday’s Futures Game, and WEEI.com’s Alex Speier is already wondering how the Rangers prospect could have fallen to the 39th pick of the 2012 draft.  The Red Sox, in particular, had two bonus compensation picks plus their own first-rounder with Gallo still on the board and yet passed on him all three times (drafting Deven Marrero, Brian Johnson and Pat Light instead).
  • When Drew Pomeranz is ready to return to the Athletics‘ 25-man roster, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle hints that the A’s could make room by parting ways with Jim Johnson.  The A’s nearly dealt Johnson to the Marlins last month and there have been reports that Oakland would be willing to eat most of Johnson’s remaining salary (approximately $4.2MM) in a trade.  Johnson has been a major disappointment in his first season as an Athletic, posting a 6.18 ERA and losing his closer’s job to Sean Doolittle.
  • The Athletics‘ seven All-Stars took some very different paths to get to Oakland, Tim Britton of the Providence Journal writes, which is a tribute to how creatively the team has built its first-place roster.