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Here’s the latest out of the National League …
- The Reds are discussing the possibility of a surgical option for injured hurler Homer Bailey, as MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon writes. Bailey, playing out the first year of a six-year, $105MM extension, is dealing with a flexor mass tendon strain in his right forearm. It appears that a surgery would have a shorter recovery time than would, say, a UCL replacement, but manager Bryan Price emphasized that the decision would likely be made in relatively short order to avoid undue delay.
- Top Rockies prospect Jon Gray has been shut down after experiencing shoulder fatigue, Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post reports. An MRI came back clean, and Gray says that he has felt good in bullpen sessions, which certainly reduces concern. It seems, however, that Colorado is likely to hold their prized righty out of game action until next spring. Presumably, Gray — and fellow top young arm Eddie Butler — will have a chance to join the Rockies rotation early next year.
- Results on recent trades have not favored the Diamondbacks, writes Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. Though most of the deals have not been disastrous, in Piecoro’s estimation, the failed Justin Upton swap has had lingering negative effects — and now looks worse than it did after the one-year mark. At present, the Braves have achieved an additional 5.3 rWAR and 7.3 fWAR from their end of the deal (Upton and Chris Johnson), as against the production of the since-traded Martin Prado and Randall Delgado, Zeke Spruill, and Nick Ahmed. As Piecoro notes, there is still some time for the tally to creep back in Arizona’s favor, particularly since prospects Brandon Drury and Peter O’Brien (the latter of whom was obtained for Prado) still could provide value.
MLBPA Executive Director Tony Clark doesn't expect the Collective Bargaining Agreement to be reopened before its 2016 expiration to address issues with the qualifying offer system, writes Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle. "It’s very difficult to open up a CBA," said Clark. "Suffice it to say, if there are issues during the course of any agreement, we continue to have discussions that may not require the CBA be to opened up, making sure that whatever the concerns are, whatever the issues are, and if they can be discussed in some more formal fashion, so be it, but more often than not, come 2016 when we have an opportunity to sit down is when we’ll do so." Last night, Aaron Steen asked MLBTR readers about the qualifying offer and nearly 47% want to tweak the QO while 25% want to eliminate it entirely.
In National League news and notes on Oscar Sunday:
- With the ink barely dry on Homer Bailey's six-year, $105MM contract extension, the Reds will be in the same situation with starters Mat Latos, Mike Leake, and Johnny Cueto next year. Owner Bob Castellini told the Cincinnati Enquirer's John Fay the team wants to retain all three. "We’re going to try to sign all these guys," Castellini said. "Whether we can or not, I don’t know. I don’t have a crystal ball."
- Castellini also told Fay he is not pleased with the media's coverage of the Reds' offseason because it has had an adverse affect on the team's revenues. "That season-ticket number is the most important number we can generate," said Castellini. "We knew we wanted to sign Homer. We knew we were going to make some other commitments. It’s not that we didn’t look. It gets written in such a way – 'Well, the Reds aren’t doing anything' – that really does affect people buying season tickets." Castellini provided Fay with details of the club's revenue generated through ticket sales, sponsorships, and the national TV contract adding neither he nor any of the other principal owners or investors have ever taken money out of the franchise.
- Last month, the Braves gave Jason Heyward a two-year, $13.3MM contract. In two years, the perfect storm of baseball's economics, Heyward's age, and actions taken by the Braves will set the 24-year-old up for a huge payday on a likely barren free agent market, according to Mike Petriello of ESPN.com in an Insider-only piece (subscription required).
- With mixed reviews to date, Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez made his Spring Training debut yesterday. Phillies GM Ruban Amaro Jr. was upbeat about what he saw, reports MLB.com's Todd Zolecki. "He probably threw better with his stuff as far as his velocity and breaking ball since he's been in camp," Amaro said. "I was encouraged that his stuff was better than it had been in his sides. And hopefully it will continue to progress in a positive way." Pitching coach Bob McClure added (as quoted by Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Inquirer), "I saw a very competitive (guy), and that is what I was really hoping for. And he might be one of those guys that’s not the best practice player, but you put him in a game and he competes." Reports surfaced last week Gonzalez could open the season in the minors.
- Solid pitching will be key to any improvement the Rockies hope to make this season. ESPN's Jerry Crasnick focuses on young starters Jonathan Gray and Eddie Butler while the Denver Post's Troy E. Renck examines the Rockies' adherence to pitch counts to protect their starting rotation and the corresponding reliance on their bullpen, which could be called upon to record 10 or 11 outs every game.
Earlier today it was reported that the Rockies are one of the teams that has checked in on Ike Davis, but according to Troy Renck of the Denver Post, that's just one of many avenues the team is looking into in an attempt to fill the void left by Todd Helton's retirement. Colorado has also checked in on free agents James Loney, Justin Morneau and Mike Napoli and also has some degree of interest in Mike Morse (Twitter links). More news on the boys from Denver…
- In regards to the Rockies' previously reported interest in Brian Wilson, Renck tweets that the team will need to pay closer money to secure the Beard's services in 2014.
- MLB.com's Tracy Ringolsby spoke with senior VP of Major League operations Bill Geivett, who reiterated that Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez will not be traded this winter. The Rockies feel that they are close to contention and are focused on adding good players as opposed to subtracting them, writes Ringolsby. He quotes Geivett: "We spent 33 days in first place and (42) more in second place last year. Things have to happen, but it's not that far."
- Finding a bat to replace Helton is the team's "No. 1 priority" writes Ringolsby, and their preference is to fill it with a left-handed bat, which would bode well for Loney and Morneau.
- Ringolsby also notes that the team can't ignore the black hole in the fifth slot in the rotation. The Rockies went 62-50 in games started by one of Jorge De La Rosa, Jhoulys Chacin, Tyler Chatwood or Juan Nicasio. In their 50 games started by a combination of seven others, Colorado was 12-38, Ringolsby points out. They could look to add two starting options in an effort to upgrade over Nicasio as well.
- Finally from Ringolsby, neither 2013 first-rounder Jonathan Gray or 2012 supplemental-rounder Eddie Butler will open 2014 in the Majors, though each could be up as early as May 1 if need be. That seems to be a particularly aggressive timeline for Gray, who threw just 24 innings at High-A last season.
The Rockies signed first-round pick Jonathan Gray to a $4.8MM deal, tweets Jim Callis of Baseball America. The right-hander's deal is about $826K less than the suggested slot value for the No. 3 overall pick, according to BA's list of the assigned pick values for the first ten rounds. He is advised by BBI Sports Group.
Gray, who comes out of Oklahoma University's program was the top-ranked talent in the draft according to Baseball America, second according to MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo and third according to ESPN's Keith Law. Gray was widely projected as either the No. 1 or No. 2 pick in the draft but fell to third when the Cubs threw everyone a minor curveball and drafted Kris Bryant.
The 6'4", 245-pounder spent the season as the Sooners' Friday starter, flashing a fastball that hit triple digits and showing the ability to maintain that velocity deep into his outings. His slider is considered by BA, Mayo and Law to be a plus pitch as well.
Gray was the source of some minor controversy just days before the draft when it was reported that he tested positive for Adderall. There was some speculation at the time that the failed test could cause his bonus demands to drop, though it's not clear if that test is the reason he signed an under-slot deal. Cubs scouting director Jason McLeod said after the draft that the test didn't play a role in their decision to select Bryant over Gray. With this agreement, Gray becomes the 10th first-round selection from this year's draft class to sign.
Steve Adams contributed to this post. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Jonathan Gray, the No. 3 overall pick in this year's draft, is in Denver and expected to complete a deal with the Rockies today, according to Troy Renck of the Denver Post (Twitter links). The assigned pick value of the No. 3 overall slot is $5,626,400, according to Baseball America.
Gray, a right-hander out of Oklahoma University, is advised by BBI Sports Group. The 6'4", 245-pounder was the top-ranked talent in the draft according to Baseball America, second according to MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo and third according to ESPN's Keith Law. Nearly every mock draft from experts around the Internet had Gray coming off the board with one of the first two picks.
Gray spent the season as the Sooners' Friday starter, flashing a fastball that hit triple digits and showing the ability to maintain that velocity deep into his outings. His slider is considered by BA, Mayo and Law to be a plus pitch as well.
With the first round of the 2013 draft in the books, here's a look at the latest news on this year's top picks..
- Astros GM Jeff Luhnow told reporters, including Alyson Footer of MLB.com (via Twitter) Houston viewed Mark Appel as the pick to beat throughout the scouting year and never saw a player who became more appealing than the right-hander.
- Luhnow went on to say that the Astros won't rush Appel to the big leagues and there's no timetable for when he could eventually make his way up to the varsity squad (Twitter links).
- Cubs scouting director Jason McLeod wasn't bothered by Jonathan Gray's positive test for Adderall, according to Meghan Montemurro of The Northwest Herald (Twitter link). The Cubs, of course, selected Kris Bryant with the No. 2 pick.
- Red Sox's first round pick Trey Ball sounds like he's ready to join the Red Sox rather than attend the University of Texas based on this quote from Brian MacPherson of The Providence Journal (viaTwitter). "Anything can happen, but I feel that Boston is right for me," said the left-hander, who was taken with the No. 7 pick.
- A's pick Billy McKinney says that the Yankees, Rangers, and Giants also expressed interest in him, tweets Paul Gutierrez of CSNCalifornia.com.
In his final installment of his Top 100 Draft Flashback series, Matt Eddy of Baseball America assigned values to each of the top ten picks and gave tiered values to the entire first round. Eddy lumps the together the picks in groups of five and uses WAR to weigh each tier against one another. He also identifies the best players to be plucked out of each group, starting with Alex Rodriguez (1-5), Frank Thomas/Derek Jeter (6-10), and Manny Ramirez (11-15). Here's the latest draft news as we close in on the first pick at 6pm central..
- Keith Law of ESPN.com (via Twitter) hears that the Astros will take Mark Appel No. 1.
- Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports (via Twitter) isn't sure if the Royals have a deal worked out with Phil Bickford but he's certain that some team does. The right-hander's adviser kept him from talking to club executives this week.
- It was reported earlier today that the Royals have reached a deal to take Bickford with the No. 8 pick, but the club is adamant that they have no such agreement, tweets Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star.
- There's some buzz around baseball that the Cubs are leaning towards taking Kris Bryant over a pitcher, tweets David Kaplan of CSNChicago.com.
- Jim Bowden of ESPN.com (Twitter link) spoke to one scouting director picking early in first round about how he thinks the top of the draft will play out. His guess is that the Astros will take Jonathan Gray, the Cubs will grab Mark Appel at No. 2, and the Rockies will draft Bryant with the third pick.
- Shi Davidi of Sportsnet broke down the Blue Jays' draft strategy and spoke with Matt Smoral about his draft experience last year. The left-hander, who saw his stock drop thanks to a stress fracture in his right foot, assumed he was UNC-bound as he didn't expect any club to meet his $2MM asking price. “Initially, I went, not into panic, but said, ‘Oh crap, I’m going to college,’” the No. 50 pick in last year's draft said. “[The new rules] definitely changed the game but the way I looked at was, I went in there with a number that me and my family and my agent got together, and I was good with going either way." Toronto found room in the budget for Smoral by essentially punting their picks from rounds 4-10, and Davidi surmises that they'll be open to getting creative this year if another opportunity falls into their lap.
- Marc Carig of Newsday (via Twitter) hears that the Mets will draft the best player available at No. 11, rather than target need.
The 2013 amateur draft goes down at 6pm central tomorrow and we'll have wall-to-wall coverage here on MLBTR. Here's a look at the latest news on the eve of the draft..
- Picking at No. 7 hasn't changed much about the Red Sox's draft philosophy as they will still take the best player still left on the board, writes Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal. "I've always thought you've got to take the best player," amateur scouting director Amiel Sawdaye said. "That's the way I've been taught. That's the way we've tried to proceed here in the last 10 years, 15 years. That's the way we'll continue to do it."
- Twins Vice President of Player Personnel Mike Radcliff told Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN (via Twitter) that pitcher Jonathan Gray is "still a player you're considering and have a lot of interest in" despite his positive test for Adderall. After the news broke, ESPN's Keith Law estimated that the news wouldn't harm the Oklahoma product's draft position.
- Radcliff expects to draft at least seven pitchers with the Twins' first ten picks and at least 20 with their top 40 picks, Wolfson tweets.
- Matt Eddy of Baseball America looked at graduation rates and the impact that they historically have had on top 100 picks in the draft. Among other observations, Eddy surmises that teams seem more than willing to players who profile as corner players or second basemen prove themselves in college before committing big bucks to them outside of the first round.
Baseball is a generational game, and it should come as no surprise to hear that many of this year's prospects have relatives involved in the sport. Conor Glassey of Baseball America ran down some of the more prominent players who have fathers, uncles, brothers and cousins involved in baseball. Top prospect Colin Moran has major big league ties as his brother is Mariners pitching prospect Brian Moran and his uncles are former outfielder B.J. Surhoff and pitcher Rich Surhoff. Here's more draft linkage…
- The Twins would take Oklahoma right-hander Jonathan Gray if he was available when the club was on the board with the fourth overall pick, two sources tell Darren Wolfson of 1500ESPN.com (Twitter link). It's no surprise the pitching-hungry Twins would take the highly-touted righty, though it would be a mild surprise to see Gray drop to the No. 4 pick, his recent positive test for Adderall notwithstanding.
- Stanford right-hander Mark Appel tops Keith Law's ranking of the top 100 draft prospects. While Law thinks Appel is the best talent in this year's draft, he predicted the Astros would take Moran with the first overall pick in his most recent mock draft (an ESPN Insider subscription required for both pieces).
- Blue Jays amateur scouting director Brian Parker talks to Sportnet's Shi Davidi about the upcoming draft and how the Jays won't have extra compensatory picks for the first time since 2008.
- The most recent collective bargaining agreement hurt the amateur draft, Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star writes, and Griffin believes the system would be improved by a worldwide talent pool draft and allowing picks to be traded.
- Jim Callis of Baseball America spoke with Sportsnet's Ben Nicholson-Smith about the Blue Jays' possibilities in the draft. While there's no Bryce Harper-type player to be found in this year's class, Toronto can still snag a "really good player" at No. 10 overall, in Callis' estimation. Kohl Stewart is a guy that could intrigue the Blue Jays, but Callis expects the Twins to snag him at No. 4.
- The Mariners see plenty of promise at the No. 12 pick, writes MLB.com's Greg Johns. "I keep reading and hearing this is a weak Draft and I always stay away from that," M's scouting director Tom McNamara said. "I think it's fine. Where we're picking, we're fine." Catcher Reese McGuire is regarded as a top 12 pick by most experts and is right in the Mariners' backyard, but McNamara is predictably tight-lipped about the club's potential interest in him.
- Callis also checked in with Steve Melewski of MASNsports.com about what we might see the Orioles do. In two of his three mock drafts so far, Callis has the O's taking South Carolina high school catcher Nick Ciuffo and the BA scribe says that he has gotten some A.J. Pierzynski comps.
MLBTR's Mark Polishuk also contributed to this post
9:56pm: Marshall right-hander Aaron Blair also tested positive for Adderall, reports Conor Glassey of Baseball America. Blair ranked as the No. 41 draft prospect, per BA.
Glassey spoke to a pair of front office executives from different teams, and each believed Gray's usage was a one-time mistake that won't be held against him. A source close to Blair told Glassey that his usage was also a one-time instance.
5:18pm: ESPN's Keith Law reports that Oklahoma right-hander Jonathan Gray, projected to be one of the Top 5 picks in Thursday's MLB draft, has tested positive for Adderall — a stimulant which is banned by the Joint Drug Agreement between MLB and the players' union. According to Law, the test will not result in a suspension, and it's not likely to cause him to slip in the draft.
In fact, in a second piece (this one for ESPN Insiders only), Law outlines a scenario in which this test could actually make Gray more appealing to the Astros with the first overall pick. Law writes that Gray's bonus demands will be lower due to the poor result. One source told Law he expects Gray to sign for a "huge" discount. In that scenario, the Astros could likely sign Gray below slot with the first pick and allocate some of the additional funds to later players without risk of exceeding their bonus pool.
Adderall is typically prescribed as a treatment for ADHD, but Gray did not have a prescription for the drug. In Law's first piece, he notes that more than 110 active players were granted exemptions to use the drug in 2012. Carlos Ruiz's 25-game suspension to open the season was the result of using Adderall without a prescription, he adds. Most teams that Law has spoken to thus far aren't overly troubled by Gray's test, though it does bring his judgment into question.