Jon Daniels Rumors

Rosenthal’s Latest: Utley, Angels, Zobrist, Zimmermann, Giants, Execs

In his latest notes column for FOX Sports, Ken Rosenthal looks at the failed attempt to acquire Chase Utley made by both the Angels and Cubs. Anaheim “blew it” by not adding Utley, opines Rosenthal, as the Halos had more playing time to offer than the Dodgers but didn’t pull the trigger on a deal despite only having acquired “complementary hitters” in July. (That seems harsh, as there’s no guarantee that the current iteration of Utley is anything more than a complementary piece himself.) As for the Cubs, they initially showed interest while Utley was still hurt, but Utley wasn’t comfortable being traded while on a rehab assignment, says Rosenthal, so the Phils waited to put him through waivers. By the time he returned, Howie Kendrick had been hurt in L.A., creating a match with the Dodgers.

Some more highlights from the column…

  • As others have noted, the Angels‘ GM opening is a tough sell to prospective candidates because Arte Moreno is more involved than the average owner, and Mike Scioscia has more power than the average manager. One rival general manager described the Angels’ GM role to Rosenthal as such: “You take all of the beatings (from Moreno) and you’ve got no power (due to Scioscia).” Jerry Dipoto resigned from his post this summer due to reported clashes with Scioscia.
  • The Blue Jays tried to trade for Ben Zobrist, but the Athletics‘ asking price was Matt Boyd plus other pieces, Rosenthal hears, which was too steep for GM Alex Anthopoulos. Boyd was ultimately one of three pieces used to acquire David Price from the Tigers.
  • Rosenthal reports that the Giants are likely to pursue right-hander Jordan Zimmermann as they look to bulk up their rotation this offseason. However, he notes that the Wisconsin native may prefer to return to the Midwest. Zimmermann ranked eighth on the most recent edition of MLBTR’s Free Agent Power Rankings, though he’s had a couple of rough starts since then.
  • The Giants may also consider attempting to unload the final year of Angel Pagan‘s contract this winter. Pagan is slated to earn $10MM next season in the final season of a four-year, $40MM contract after playing in just 167 games from 2013-14 and struggling at the plate in 102 games to this point in 2015. San Francisco could use Gregor Blanco in center field in the event that they’re able to move Pagan.
  • The recent trend of teams promoting an assistant GM to GM and a current GM to president (as the White Sox and Giants have done) could continue this offseason as teams try to prevent their top AGMs from departing for GM vacancies elsewhere, Rosenthal writes. The Rangers could promote Thad Levine to GM (and presumably elevate Jon Daniels), for instance, and the Cardinals could promote Mike Girsch (presumably promoting GM John Mozeliak as well). And, should Mark Shapiro end up with the Blue Jays, the Indians could bump Mike Chernoff to GM and make Chris Antonetti president (Cleveland previously did his by moving Shapiro from GM to president and Antonetti from AGM to GM). Levine, Girsch and Chernoff could all attract interest from other teams this winter.

Rangers Notes: Harrison, Daniels, Hamels, Gallardo

Rangers officials personally informed Matt Harrison that he was going to be traded midway through the Rangers’ game on Wednesday, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News writes.  With rumors of the Cole Hamels trade swirling, GM Jon Daniels didn’t want an awkward repeat of the 2013 situation when longtime Ranger Ian Kinsler only found out he was dealt to Detroit via social media.  Harrison assumed the in-game meeting regarded Hamels, though Harrison thought he was being told that his next start was being pushed a day to accommodate the former Phillie.  Here’s some more from the Rangers…

  • Daniels discussed the Hamels trade and more during an appearance on The Front Office with Jim Duquette and Grant Paulsen on MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM.  The Rangers first tried to acquire Hamels in 2012 before he signed his contract extension with the Phillies, and talks between the two sides became serious again both this last offseason and this July (Twitter link).
  • The Rangers gave up several prospects for Hamels, though Daniels said it was a necessary price given that the Phillies were taking on Harrison’s contract and also sending $9.5MM in cash to Texas.  “When you’re talking that significant discount financially we understood we had to put a little more talent in the deal,” Daniels said (Twitter link).
  • Daniels also talked about the decision to hold onto Yovani Gallardo (audio link), which was inspired by the Rangers’ desire to make a playoff run, no mandate from ownership to unload Gallardo’s salary and the general feeling that there wasn’t an offer on the table that really intrigued the Rangers.  “It didn’t make sense for us, we didn’t want to pull the rug from under the club,” Daniels said.  “I’d rather have him continue to pitch for us and get the draft pick [if Gallardo leaves in free agency] than get a B- or C-level deal.”  The number of other solid pitchers on the market may have been another reason why a Gallardo deal didn’t materialize, the general manager speculated.
  • In regards to Gallardo’s pending free agency, Daniels said the Rangers will save any negotiations until after the season.

Rangers Out Of Market For Top Rentals, Have Talked To Padres About Pitchers

JULY 28: Not only are the Rangers in contact with the Padres regarding Ross and Cashner, they’re discussing the pair with San Diego as much as they’re discussing Hamels with the Phillies, according to T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com (Twitter link).

JULY 26: Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported yesterday that the 47-50 Rangers were mostly seeking players who could help beyond 2015. Today, Wilson writes (Twitter links) that according to GM Jon Daniels, the Rangers are out of the market for top rental players, although they could pursue minor trades for impending free agents. The Rangers have, of course, lately been strongly connected to Cole Hamels, but Hamels is under contract for several seasons beyond this one.

The team has recently had discussions with the Padres about Andrew Cashner and Tyson Ross, Wilson writes. Cashner is under control through 2016, Ross through 2017. Ross, who has more years of control remaining and is a strikeout pitcher with an excellent ground ball rate, appears especially likely to require a significant return. The two pitchers were, until recently, frequently connected to the Astros, although Houston would seem less likely to acquire either of them now that they’ve traded for Scott Kazmir.



NL Notes: Gordon, Burgos, Stewart, Preller

Marlins second baseman Dee Gordon is a better bet than projection systems indicate, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports argues. Steamer and PECOTA foresee regression for Gordon next season, but Rosenthal points to examples of late-blooming speedy players like Michael Bourn, Shane Victorino and Tom Goodwin as evidence that Gordon (who didn’t start playing baseball until he was a junior in high school) ought to be able to retain some of the improvements he made in the first half of last season. Rosenthal also suggests being traded from Los Angeles to Miami might be good for Gordon, in that he’ll get to work with top infield instructor Perry Hill with the Marlins. Here are more notes from the National League.

  • Diamondbacks prospect Enrique Burgos‘ current GM, Dave Stewart, was also his agent before the Dbacks hired him last September. Burgos credits Stewart for helping him improve last season, Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic writes. Burgos walked 50 batters in 46 1/3 innings with Class A South Bend in 2013, but he took a new attitude with him to Class A+ Visalia last year and halved his walk rate while posting 13.7 K/9 in 54 2/3 innings of relief. “Before, a lot of people would tell me that I looked so nice on the mound,” says Burgos. “But with the stuff that I have, I can’t be nice. That was one of the things [Stewart] told me. You have to think you’re the man up there, instead of being so nice.”
  • Fellow GMs thought new Padres executive A.J. Preller would be aggressive, but his ultra-busy offseason took the rest of baseball by surprise, Jeff Sanders of the San Diego Union-Tribune writes. The fact that the Padres hired Preller in August gave him time to figure out how best to remake his team, his former boss and Rangers GM Jon Daniels says. “I think the fact that he got in early gave him the chance to truly evaluate what they had and make this decision that people didn’t anticipate,” says Daniels. “I think the assumption was they might trade some of their pitching and build the system, especially with his background in the amateur markets. That’s where I give him a lot of credit. He said, ‘No, we can win right now,’ and did it in a creative fashion.”

West Notes: Ethier, Andrus, Rangers, Padres

The gap between the haves and have-nots in baseball have lessened because of revenue sharing and financial incentives not to overspend in the draft and free agency, writes Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle. The Dodgers, however, are utilizing a different model to maximize their financial advantage: buying front office talent. Drellich notes the $7MM average annual value Dodgers President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman earns would make him the Astros’ third-highest paid player. “Big-market, small-market potential difference,” Astros GM Jeff Luhnow said. “There does seem to be increased competition for talented people that have had success in our industry. That’s not the first time we’ve seen it. It’s not the last time we’re going to see it. As far as front offices with different layers that don’t exist in our organization, it’s a way to get more people in the organization.” Luhnow also pointed out the distinction between a city’s population and its market size and how that affects a franchise’s financial resources. Houston is “the fourth-largest city in the country, but we’re not the fourth-largest market in the country, not even close,” Luhnow remarked. “We’re not ever going to be a small market necessarily, but our revenues are not proportionate with our city size relative to other big metropolitan areas.

In other news involving MLB’s West divisions:

  • Some rival evaluators believe Andre Ethier is by far the most likely Dodgers outfielder to be traded, according to Buster Olney of ESPN.com (on Twitter). However, Los Angeles will weigh their options. Carl Crawford and, perhaps to a lesser extent, Matt Kemp, also appear to be trade candidates.
  • Rangers GM Jon Daniels told Jim Bowden of Sirius XM (on Twitter) he will “listen” on Elvis Andrus because of the club’s infield depth. Texas also has middle infielders like Luis Sardinas, Jurickson Profar, and Rougned Odor in the fold.
  • Daniels went on to say the Rangers‘ needs are at starting pitcher, catcher, left field, or DH and these vacancies are more likely to be solved via trade than free agency (link). Last month, our own Brad Johnson previewed the Rangers’ offseason.
  • The Padres must consider trading one of their catchers (Yasmani Grandal, Rene Rivera, or propsect Austin Hedges) in order to improve their offense, opines Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Rangers Extend Jon Daniels, Thad Levine

FRIDAY: The Rangers have officially announced both extensions. While specifics weren’t divulged, Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram tweets that each received a three-year deal. Anthony Andro of FOX Sports Southwest adds that the deals kick in at the end of their pre-existing contracts, meaning they’re now signed through 2018. In the press release, co-chairmen Ray Davis and Bob Simpson issued the following statement:

“Under Jon’s and Thad’s leadership, the Rangers have created a strong overall organization that has combined major league success with a productive scouting and player development operation over a number of years. Jon and Thad are skilled executives who are well respected around the game and completely committed to once again delivering a winning team for our fans.”

THURSDAY: The Rangers have extended general manager Jon Daniels and assistant GM Thad Levine, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. The exact terms of the extensions are unknown to this point, but Daniels’ contract was slated to expire at the end of the 2015 season.

Jon Daniels and Thad Levine

Daniels succeeded John Hart (now the Braves’ president of baseball operations) as GM of the team following the 2005 season at the incredibly young age of 28. He’s been in his role for nearly a decade now, and in that time, the Rangers have made their first two World Series appearances. The team struggled in 2014, finishing with just 67 wins, although a nearly unthinkable list of injuries was largely to blame for that disappointing performance.

The 41-year-old Levine was also appointed to his current post in October 2005 and has been long rumored as a GM candidate himself. He withdrew his name from consideration from the D’Backs GM search prior to the team’s hiring of Dave Stewart. When former Rangers AGM A.J. Preller became GM of the Padres, Levine took on the oversight of the club’s international scouting operations, as Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News wrote back in September.

As can be seen in MLBTR’s Transactions Tracker, Daniels and Levine were behind what is considered one of the best trades in Rangers history — the Mark Teixeira trade to the Braves that netted Texas Elvis Andrus, Matt Harrison, Neftali Feliz, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and minor leaguer Beau Jones. However, some Rangers fans are likely more focused on last offseason’s Prince Fielder/Ian Kinsler swap, which to this point has certainly not panned out for Texas.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


West Notes: Daniels, Lewis, Astros, Padres

The Rangers would like to finish an extension with president of baseball operations and GM Jon Daniels by the start of spring training, ESPN Dallas’ Calvin Watkins writes. Daniels is entering the last year of a four-year deal. His contract had been on the back burner as the Rangers looked for a new manager, but with Jeff Banister now in the fold, the Rangers should have more time. “We’ve been consumed for the last month on this, so [Daniels’ extension] will fall in place,” says team co-chairman Ray Davis. Daniels’ teams have played in two World Series and had four 90-plus-win seasons since he was hired in 2005. Here are more notes from the West divisions.

  • The Rangers are interested in retaining pitcher Colby Lewis, and Daniels says he’s talked to Lewis’ agent, Anthony Andro of FOX Sports Southwest tweets. The Rangers are the only team allowed to negotiate with Lewis until five days after the World Series. The impending free agent pitched 170 1/3 innings in 2014, and his 7.0 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9 indicated he was somewhat better than his 5.18 ERA suggested.
  • The Astros have announced new manager A.J. Hinch’s 2015 coaching staff, as noted by Mark Berman of FOX 26 (on Twitter). Former Mets hitting coach Dave Hudgens will take the same role with the Astros. Rich Dauer, previously the manager of the Double-A San Antonio Missions in the Padres organization, will be Houston’s first base coach. The team also officially announced that Gary Pettis will be their third base coach and Trey Hillman their bench coach.
  • The Padres announced a variety of changes in their player development area Friday, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. Randy Smith, who had been vice president for player development, will become a senior advisor for baseball operations, and will focus on scouting. The team will not retain field coordinator Randy Johnson (not the former star pitcher), hitting coordinator Sean Berry or outfield and baserunning coordinator Glen Barker. The Padres could consider Rangers field coordinator Jayce Tingler for their farm director position, Lin notes.

Rangers GM Jon Daniels On Injuries To Fielder, Profar

Earlier today we learned that Rangers first baseman Prince Fielder was “seriously considering” season-ending surgery to fix a herniated disc in his neck.  Later, an afternoon conference call with Rangers GM Jon Daniels confirmed that the five-time All-Star will go ahead with that plan.  Naturally, the injury to Fielder raised speculation from many that the Rangers could consider free agent Kendrys Morales.  While Daniels didn’t refer to the former Mariners slugger directly, I asked him if he might consider making a notable out-of-house pickup to fill the void in the batting order.

Not today, not right now,” Daniels said.  “I think that our focus right now is on the group of guys [including the injured Jurickson Profar and Dan Robertson] that are going to come back…There’s a group of guys that are up here in the big leagues that have put together a few good games this week, and we want to see if we can build on that and then evaluate where we are and adjust if that time comes.

The Rangers received $30MM from the Tigers to help cover part of Fielder’s deal, but with an Opening Day payroll north of $136MM, one might wonder if the owners are feeling tapped out.  When I asked Daniels if he might be afforded some financial flexibility to make a significant out-of-house addition, he simply said that he’s not willing to divulge one way or another.

In addition to losing Fielder, the Rangers also got some bad news concerning Profar, who will be sidelined another 8 to 12 weeks thanks to the Grade 2 strain in his right arm.  That’s similar to the timeline we initially heard on Profar in late March, but the clock has been reset and this time around his rehab process will be “even more conservative.”  With the rash of injuries that the Rangers have had to deal with, Daniels had a hard time concealing his frustration.

My reaction to the news unfortunately wasn’t surprise just because from talking to [Prince] and seeing him, we knew that this was serious.  We were hoping the injection could keep him comfortable and get him through the season.  Sometimes you have that response.  His response was initially positive,” Daniels said.  “The upside is that I’ve been told that this particular surgery has a high success rate.  It doesn’t have the same level of risk that a lumbar [problem] of the lower back has in terms of how you use those two parts of the body and the weight you have to support.  I’m looking forward to seeing this guy healthy and what he can do, but that’s more of a 2015 and beyond thing.”

The other silver lining, if there is one, is that Profar is not ticketed for surgery at this time.  For Fielder, he’ll have to have a cervical fusion on his c5 and c6 vertebrae on Tuesday.  One might wonder if the problem could have been caught if the Rangers had Fielder undergo a full physical after acquiring him, but Daniels says that a cervical MRI wouldn’t have been conducted anyway since there was no prior issue there.

It remains to be seen whether the Rangers will make a splashy move to help bolster their weakened lineup, but there’s no doubt that they’ll miss Fielder in 2014.


Rangers Notes: Daniels, Maddux, Murphy, Young

Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux is "more interested" in the Cubs manager's job than he was two years ago, a source tells ESPN Chicago's Jesse Rogers.  The Cubs were interested in Maddux in 2011 but he pulled himself out of the process due to family considerations, though that "isn't as big of a concern" this time around.  The Cubs have yet to contact Maddux during their current search for a new bench boss.  Here's the latest from Arlington…

  • GM Jon Daniels discussed his relationship with Nolan Ryan, coaching changes, Jurickson Profar's development and other Rangers topics during a recent appearance on "The Ben and Skin Show" on 105.3 The Fan radio (partial transcript provided by the Dallas Morning News).  In regards to how the team will address Profar and the crowded middle infield picture, Daniels said, “If [a trade] helps us get better and win, then yeah, and I think we’d consider trading somebody. If it doesn’t, we’re not going to force it. There are a lot worse problems than having too many good players for a position.”
  • Also from that interview, Daniels discussed his club's offseason needs.  "Catching is an area that we need to address, as is our offense and run production in general, and there's a couple different spots we can look to add some offense. I think you're always in the market for pitching," Daniels said.
  • David Murphy will likely be playing elsewhere in 2014, MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan writes as part of a reader mailbag.  The 31-year-old hit a career-worst .220/.282/.374 in 476 PA, drastically lowing his stock on the free agent market this winter.  Sullivan speculates that Murphy could be a good fit on the Astros or Giants.
  • Also from Sullivan's mailbag, he notes that Michael Young could retire at the end of this season.  Young turns 37 later this month and his contract will be up as soon as the Dodgers' playoff run ends.
  • Sullivan guesses that the Rangers would have to give up Profar, a top pitching prospect like Luke Jackson, and also a big hitting prospect from the lower minors to acquire David Price from the Rays. 
  • If the Rangers signed Cuban slugger Jose Dariel Abreu, Sullivan doesn't think it would necessarily mean the end of Mitch Moreland's time with the club since the Rangers need more bats.
  • Earlier today on MLBTR, Zach Links included an item about the Rangers as part of a "Texas Notes" post.

Rangers Notes: Washington, Payroll, Morales

Rangers GM Jon Daniels spoke to the media today and already shared some information about his team's plans for Nelson Cruz and Joe Nathan this offseason.  Here's some more from Daniels' press conference and other Ranger-related news items…

  • Daniels said he will speak to manager Ron Washington about a contract extension this winter (via Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram).  The GM hasn't yet spoken to upper management about extending Washington's deal but Daniels doesn't want Washington to be a lame duck in the final year of his current contract.  It could mirror the situation in January 2012 when Washington was heading into his final year with Texas and signed his current two-year extension.
  • The Rangers' 2014 payroll will be "a little below" its $125.3MM figure from last season, Daniels said (via Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News).  The club has around $85MM committed to nine players next season, plus five arbitration-eligible players.  Since the club will have at least $31MM worth of free agents coming off the books, Grant notes, the Rangers will still have room to spend.
  • The Rangers "certainly have interest" in free agent Kendrys Morales, MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan reports.  Since the Mariners plan to extend a qualifying offer to Morales, signing Morales would cost the Rangers their first-round draft pick as compensation.
  • Also in Sullivan's piece, he breaks down the Rangers' offseason needs and notes that Jurickson Profar's positional future could play a role in Texas' moves.  For instance, the Rangers could experiment with Profar at third base, which would allow Adrian Beltre to save his legs by seeing regular DH at-bats.
  • The firing of bench coach Jackie Moore has generated some rumors of Daniels wanting more influence in on-field decisions, but ESPN Dallas' Richard Durrett believes that Daniels is simply trying to find the right coaching mix rather than engaging in a power struggle with Washington or Nolan Ryan.