Jonathan Lucroy Rumors

NL Central Notes: Martinez, Byrd, Heyward, Lucroy

The Reds did indeed scout top Cuban outfield prospect Eddy Julio Martinez, tweets John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer, but they’re not likely to sign the 20-year-old, he adds. The Reds aren’t interested in incurring maximum penalties for exceeding their international bonus pool, which they’d almost certainly need to do in order to sign Martinez. The team that signs Martinez will likely have to pay a 100 percent luxury tax for every dollar spent over their allotted pool, and they’ll also be restricted from signing future international prospects for more than $300K in each of the next two signing periods. That, of course, hasn’t deterred some clubs from spending big, but it perhaps makes it more likely that we’ll see Martinez land with a team that has already exceeded its bonus pool by a substantial margin. Interestingly, though, Fay hears that the price tag may have dropped below the previous $10MM+ expectations (Twitter link).

Here’s more from the NL Central…

  • Prior to being traded to the Giants, Marlon Byrd had somewhat of a “spat” with Reds bench coach Jay Bell, writes Fay in a separate column. Per Fay, Byrd became upset after Bell asked him to pinch-hit in the bottom of the eighth inning the day before he was traded, but he then sent Brayan Pena into the on-deck circle instead. Byrd ultimately wound up pinch-hitting, but only after a discussion with manager Bryan Price. “I didn’t get in a spat with Jay Bell,” said Byrd. “I had a conversation with the manager about Jay Bell. We had conversations all year about him. If you want to know more about that, you’d have to talk to him.” Byrd was traded to the Giants the next day, though he said he left on good terms with the his teammates and had generally positive things to say about the Reds in the conversation with Fay and other reporters.
  • Bernie Miklasz of 101 ESPN breaks down Jason Heyward‘s free agent stock, adding that he expects the Cardinals to make a push to retain their right fielder. Though the outfield looks crowded in the short-term, Matt Holliday‘s contract is up after 2016, as is Jon Jay‘s. As such, the team could boast a future outfield of Stephen Piscotty, Randal Grichuk and Heyward. While traditional numbers — homers, RBIs, batting average — don’t tell the full tale of Heyward’s value, Miklasz notes that more analytically inclined teams will be willing to make a big play for the 26-year-old. The Cardinals, Miklasz writes, prefer a higher annual value on a shorter-term deal than the risk of a nine- or 10-year pact, and they may even be open to including an opt-out clause, though that final point appears to be speculative in nature.
  • Though they’re division rivals, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny had no issues giving Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy some advice on how to handle the concussion symptoms with which he is currently dealing, writes the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel’s Todd Rosiak. Matheny, whose playing career ended due to a long history of concussions, recommended a specialist for Lucroy to see and urged him to take his time, noting points in his career where he believes he may have suffered a concussion then returned to the field the very next day, only to take another foul ball to the mask.  “[Matheny] said it was not worth a repeat hit when you’re not healed up, because that’s when things get really, really bad in terms of not being able to drive, not being able to look at lights, throwing up and nausea and stuff like that,” said Lucroy. “He really stressed, ‘Take your time.'” Dr. Micky Collins has told Lucroy that he can make a full recovery from what has been diagnosed as a vestibular concussion — or one that impacts his coordination and movement.

NL East Notes: Papelbon, Braves, Harvey

Jonathan Papelbon made his return to Philadelphia for the first time since being traded from the Phillies to the Nationals in July, and the outspoken closer didn’t pull any punches in criticizing his old team.  “I don’t know if I got a bad rep here or whatever, but I can promise you I was by far (not) the bad guy on this team.  I was one of the few that wanted to win.  I was one of the few who competed and posted up every day,” Papelbon told reporters, including Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News.  The closer’s issues extended well beyond the clubhouse, as “I think the blame goes all the way from the front office down to the bat boy.  When you don’t have an organization that wants to win, it’s pretty evident.  They go out and publicly say we’re not going to win.  What more – do you know what I mean?

Here’s some more from around the NL East…

  • Fredi Gonzalez isn’t to blame for the Braves‘ collapse,’s Mark Bowman writes as part of a reader mailbag.  The fact that Atlanta extended Gonzalez and his coaching staff’s contracts in July just before the team started trading veteran players was a sign that the manager wasn’t going to be held responsible for how the purposely-weakened roster performed down the stretch.
  • Also from Bowman’s piece, he notes that the Braves will have roughly $25-$30MM in payroll space this winter and they’ll focus on upgrading the bullpen and perhaps adding a veteran arm to the rotation.  Such a starter would be of the mid-tier variety rather than an expensive ace, however.
  • The Braves would like to bring back A.J. Pierzynski as a backup catcher next year and Christian Bethancourt may be trade bait, though Bowman wonders if Atlanta would move Bethancourt when his value is at an all-time low.  Bowman suggests that free agent catching target like Chris Iannetta might be more realistic than a pricier option such as Matt Wieters.  The Braves would also have an interest in Jonathan Lucroy but there’s no sign the Brewers are making their catcher available in trade talks.
  • The Mets will be making a mistake if they trade Matt Harvey this winter, Joel Sherman of the New York Post opines.  Harvey is too valuable and too talented to move for anything less than an elite young talent, and since the odds are slim-to-none that the likes of Carlos Correa or Xander Bogaerts could be obtained in return, Sherman feels Harvey is still needed in New York since there’s no such thing as too much pitching depth.

Jonathan Lucroy Diagnosed With Concussion

Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy has been diagnosed with a concussion, writes Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Lucroy sustained the injury while catching last Tuesday but did not experience all of the classic symptoms of a concussion. However, a concussion was still suspected after Lucroy reported dealing with “fogginess.” Today, Pittsburgh-based specialist Micky Collins confirmed the diagnosis of a concussion.

The injury puts the remainder of Lucroy’s season in jeopardy. He missed large swaths of the season on the disabled list, and has disappointed both offensively and defensively. Known as a top pitch framer, he’s fallen from elite to merely above average per StatCorner. With the bat, his .259/.322/.390 line is a big step down from his 2014 performance. His recent numbers suggest he had finally shaken off the rust. Since the middle of August, he’s hit .355/.407/.632 with 13 extra base hits in 86 plate appearances.

Lucroy hopes to return prior to the end of the season, but he acknowledges that concussions can be unpredictable. He takes a pragmatic view of the injury saying, “I plan on [playing]. But…there’s nothing for me to prove. And it’s not like we’re in a pennant race right now.

Brewers Declined Extension Overtures From Jonathan Lucroy

Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy indicated today that he was rebuffed by the team when his representatives raised the possibility of a second extension last offseason, Adam McCalvy of reports. The 29-year-old first mentioned that “a little bit of talk earlier in Spring Training … really didn’t go anywhere” in an appearance on 105.7 The Fan (audio link).

Expanding upon those comments in a chat with McCalvy, Lucroy said that he came to the team with “a proposal that would have kept me here for the rest of my career, most likely.” After submitting the offer in January, said the veteran backstop, he was informed that the team was not “interested in doing anything at this point in time.” Lucroy is represented by Sports One Athlete Management.

Lucroy agreed previously to a five-year, $11MM extension that has turned into one of the game’s more valuable contractual assets for Milwaukee. Since putting pen to paper before the 2012 campaign, Lucroy has compiled a .291/.353/.455 slash with 46 home runs while contributing outstanding work behind the dish. Though he has been off to a slow start this season after missing time early on, he’s begun hitting again over the month of July.

Under the deal, which was struck when Lucroy was more a solid youngster than the outstanding player he’s become, Milwaukee can control its franchise backstop for two more seasons (through his age-31 campaign) for just $9.25MM. The last year of that contract, 2017, consists of a $5.25MM club option.

While many teams have doubled down on cheap early extensions to grab more control at attractive rates, it seems that the Brewers were pleased with their existing commitment. There are many possible reasons for that, of course, including Lucroy’s age and unknown contractual demands as well as the amount of time remaining to discuss another agreement.

Certainly, it would not be fair to assume that Milwaukee’s apparent lack of interest in another extension indicates any particular inclination towards dealing Lucroy. We’ve heard numerous reports suggesting that Milwaukee is not looking to move him despite its place in the standings, and Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel tweeted today that “multiple top prospects” would need to be offered for the team to even consider such a move.

Twins Monitoring Market For Catchers

The Twins are “closely monitoring” the market for catchers, including the likes of A.J. Pierzynski, Derek Norris, Jonathan Lucroy and Alex Avila, reports Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

It’s not certain at this time how available each of those names might be, but Berardino writes that the Braves are open to trading Pierzynski, which comes as no surprise when considering that he’s a 38-year-old veteran playing on a one-year deal for a club that is seven games back in its division. One can imagine that the Tigers, who as of last night are reportedly planning to be sellers at the trade deadline, would be open to moving free-agent-to-be Avila.

Pierzynski has a $2MM base salary in 2015, of which roughly $841K remains. His contract also contains incentives based on games started behind the plate. To this point, he’s already earned $100K for reaching 60 starts, and he’ll earn an additional $50K for his 65th, 70th, 75th and 80th starts at catcher. He’ll earn $100K every fifth start from 80 through 100, allowing him to max out at $2.7MM. He’s hitting .280/.316/.432 with six homers this season, and it’s also worth noting (as Berardino points out) that the Twins reportedly made Pierzynski a two-year offer to return to Minnesota prior to the 2014 season. He instead chose to sign with Boston.

Minnesota’s plenty familiar with Avila, whom they’ve watched behind the plate for the Tigers dating back to 2009. However, he’s earning a not-insignificant $5.4MM this season and has played in only 34 games, hitting .192/.333/.293. Avila’s career behind the plate has been threatened by concussions, and as a club that is more than familiar with the ill effects of concussions (see: Justin Morneau, Joe Mauer, Corey Koskie), the Twins may desire more certainty.

Both Norris and Lucroy would represent long-term upgrades over incumbent Kurt Suzuki as opposed to mere rentals. Norris is under club control through 2018 and is eligible for arbitration for the first time this winter, but he’s also struggled in his transition from Oakland to San Diego. Norris has followed up a .270/.361/.403 line in 2014 with a .231/.278./.401 line in 2015. He’s certainly hitting for more power — he has a 38 point increase in his ISO, and his 11 homers already top last year’s 10 — but his walk rate and average have plummeted. Norris’ line-drive rate is down from 18.7 percent to 12.9 percent, which, paired with an increased strikeout rate, helps to explain the dip in his average.

Lucroy could very well be the prize of the catching market. He’s a premium defender in terms of both controlling the running game and pitch framing, and he’s also produced a .291/.353/.455 batting line dating back to 2012. His production has been slowed this season, in part by a fractured toe sustained earlier in the year. However, he’s hitting .274/.335/.382 dating back to June 1, and two of his three homers this season have come in the past eight games. Lucroy’s contract, though, is perhaps the most appealing part about a potential acquisition; he’s earning $3MM in 2015 before a $4MM payday in 2016 and a $5.25MM club option for the 2017 season.

That Minnesota is seeking an upgrade behind the plate is reasonable, considering the difficulty that Suzuki has had at the plate since signing a two-year, $12MM extension on July 31 last year. Suzuki had an excellent first half in Minnesota, but it was largely BABIP driven, and he closed out the year hitting .248/.290/.366. This year’s been even worse for the former A’s/Nats backstop, as he’s hitting just .227/.283/.303, making him one of the least effective bats in baseball. He’s also caught just 19 percent of attempted base stealers — 13 percent below the league average. The Twins, though, value the comfort that the pitching staff has with Suzuki, his clubhouse presence and his durability.Those positive traits, of course, would still be in play were he to transition to a backup role, even if only for the remainder of the 2015 season.

NL Central Notes: Cards, Locke, Lucroy, Reds

Cardinals rookie scouting director Chris Correa has impressed in his first six months on the job,’s Jenifer Langosch writes. His biggest early test, of course, will come in a week with the amateur draft, the first one he’ll run. Correa came to the game with a background in statistics, but acquired significant scouting knowledge after joining the St. Louis organization. “I think had he not done that, he might not have been the right person for this job,” said GM John Mozeliak. “Obviously, scouting is part art, part science, and to some level, he understood the analytical side of it. But he was also someone who was willing to ask about and try to learn the scouting side. For someone to embrace both, that makes an impression.”

  • The Pirates have decided to keep lefty Jeff Locke in the rotation, per skipper Clint Hurdle, as Tom Singer of tweets. “He still has a big upside,” explained Hurdle. After another rough outing, ballooning his ERA to 5.34, it seemed that Locke might lose his place, as’s Barry Bloom wrote, but Pittsburgh will stick with him at least a while longer. Of course, the club can continue to handcuff him to Vance Worley, who not only serves as a long-man in the event that Locke is run early but also would remain lined up to take over. As Hurdle noted, the club has plenty of depth options, but it no doubt would prefer to see Locke turn things around to keep things that way. From his own perspective, this is an important season for Locke, as he’s set to be arbitration-eligible for the first time.
  • In spite of a managerial change, the Brewers continue to lose ground and appear to be among the game’s most obvious summer sellers. Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports looks at the team’s stock of talent, suggesting that it would make sense for the club to deal away catcher Jonathan Lucroy if it chooses to move star center fielder Carlos Gomez. But Passan notes that there are not many contending teams in dire need of a backstop, which could limit his market — in spite of his incredibly cheap contract. I’d suggest that Lucroy’s limited action and lack of production in the early going is an even greater barrier to a summer deal. As for his prospective market, the Tigers and Angels look like teams that could reap huge benefits from a real upgrade behind the dish, while plenty of other clubs would be involved given Lucroy’s extended, cheap control.
  • The Reds are fresh off a sweep of the Nationals, but GM Walt Jocketty says that nothing has changed regarding the team’s planning process, as John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. “Our plan is to be competitive as we can for as long as we can,” said Jocketty. “But we’re still looking at all the different alternatives. Our scouts are out looking at the other clubs. We’re looking for players who might help us as well as prospects.” The veteran executive noted that the team has a lot of games against division opponents and at home in advance of the trade deadline, which will presumably give the team at least a fighting chance of getting into the mix. Cinci will need to put together quite a run to make buying an advisable route, of course, particularly given that it plays in a division currently led by the team with the best record in baseball and two other strong contenders.

Heyman’s Latest: Hamels/Jays, Lucroy, Baez, Correa, Alvarez

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports has published the latest installment of his weekly Inside Baseball column, and he kicks it off by reporting that the Blue Jays have inquired on Cole Hamels. However, Heyman hears that Hamels was unwilling to waive his no-trade clause to allow a trade to Toronto, which is a blow for both clubs. The Jays desperately need help in both the rotation and the bullpen, and the Phillies, Heyman notes, would love to get their hands on young pitchers with the upside of Aaron Sanchez and Daniel Norris. The Blue Jays have a bit of financial leeway after going with inexpensive options at second base, center field and left field, and Heyman writes that the Blue Jays are expected to look at other potential front-line starters this summer as they become available. (He speculatively mentions Johnny Cueto and Scott Kazmir, though neither’s available just yet.) Additionally, Heyman notes that Blue Jays manager John Gibbons’ job is safe, as GM Alex Anthopoulos has a strong relationship with the skipper and recognizes that the team’s problems are roster-related and shouldn’t be pinned on Gibbons.

Some more highlights from the column, though it’s worth a read in its entirety…

  • The Braves are said to be disappointed in the play of Christian Bethancourt, even from a defensive standpoint, and recently inquired with the Brewers on Jonathan Lucroy. However, Atlanta executives were told by the Brewers that Lucroy isn’t available at this time. That the Brewers wouldn’t trade Lucroy isn’t a shock; he’s owed a very affordable $4MM in 2016 with a $5.25MM option for the 2017 season, so even if the team can’t quickly right the ship, he’d still have enormous trade value at the 2016 trade deadline. More interesting, to me, is that the Braves would so quickly look for an upgrade over Bethancourt and that they’re acting somewhat as buyers. Lucroy, of course, could be called a long-term piece that would be around to help the team when its rebuild is closer to completion. However, acquiring him would surely require the sting of parting with some of the key components of that rebuild.
  • Some rival execs feel that the Cubs are willing to part with Javier Baez and Dan Vogelbach in trades, in part because each was drafted under the previous administration and is not held in as high a regard by the new front office. Each player comes with issues, however, as Baez is trying to cut down on his swing and improve his contact skills, while a scout described first baseman Vogelbach as a “30 fielder” to Heyman (in reference to the 20-80 scouting scale).
  • There are members of the Astros‘ field staff that want to see Carlos Correa with the team right now, but Houston will likely keep him in the minors for another month or so in order to lessen the risk of Correa achieving Super Two status. I’ll add that the Astros will have a more legitimate claim that Correa still needs minor league time than other teams in similar situations have had in the past. Correa is still just 20 years old and has only nine games of experience at the Triple-A level, though he’s continued his brilliant work at the plate there, hitting .326/.362/.558 with a pair of homers. Also of interest to Astros fans — or to fans of teams needing outfield help — the Astros are on the lookout for starting pitching upgrades, and outfield prospect Preston Tucker “seems to be available.” Tucker recently made his MLB debut and has a .963 OPS through 34 plate appearances to go along with a strong minor league track record.
  • Marlins right-hander Henderson Alvarez has been pitching for years with a partial tear of the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow, according to Heyman. Some have described it as a “90 percent tear,” but he’s been able to pitch effectively in spite of the issue. Alvarez wouldn’t be the first to pitch through a UCL tear; Ervin Santana and Adam Wainwright are both recent examples of pitchers who pitched for many seasons with partially torn UCLs. Wainwright ultimately underwent Tommy John, though Santana’s is said to have healed and is no longer an issue. In another Marlins-related note, Heyman hears that pitching coach Chuck Hernandez is “under the microscope” with both Jarred Cosart and Steve Cishek struggling greatly in 2015.
  • Brewers starters Kyle Lohse and Matt Garza have little trade value due to their 2015 struggles, but Lohse’s lesser financial commitment and superior clubhouse reputation give him more value. The team is reluctant to trade not only Lucroy, but shortstop Jean Segura as well. The Brewers are a bit more open to dealing Carlos Gomez than that pair, as Gomez is closer to free agency (he’s controlled through 2016).
  • The Mets remain reluctant to trade any of their top arms, as they’ve seen on multiple occasions how quickly Tommy John surgery or other injuries can thin out a club’s depth. (Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, Jacob deGrom and Steven Matz have all had TJ in their careers.) The Mets are also not rushing to find a shortstop, but they have indeed been “all over the map” in terms of trade possibilities with the Cubs.
  • Coco Crisp‘s neck injury is apparently quite serious, and there’s a fear that the oft-injured Athletics outfielder will ultimately require surgery that could bring his season to an end.
  • The Blue Jays would still like to extend both Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion, but there have yet to be serious discussions with either slugger’s camp. Both players are controlled through the end of the 2016 season.

Heyman On The Brewers: Counsell, Lucroy, Segura

In his newest column for CBS Sports, Jon Heyman examines how the Brewers are hopeful that new manager Craig Counsell can help turn the club around, yet GM Doug Melvin has also “already sent out feelers” to other teams if Milwaukee continues to struggle.  Here are more Brew Crew-related notes from Heyman’s piece…

  • Counsell received a strong vote of confidence from Melvin, which included an 18-point e-mail to owner Mark Attanasio arguing why Counsell was the ideal choice to replace Ron Roenicke.  As Heyman notes, the club may have been better served to fire Roenicke after last year’s late-season fade rather than guaranteeing his 2016 option and letting him continue to manage.
  • While Melvin is “planning to consider just about anything in terms of trades,” Jonathan Lucroy and Jean Segura (in that order) are the Brewers’ two most untouchable players.  “I guess you have to be open to everything. But you’d have to be overwhelmed….[Catcher and shortstop] are positions that can take years to fill,” Melvin said.
  • Carlos Gomez is likely the Brewers’ top trade chip, and would undoubtedly generate the most interest from other teams if he’s shopped.  MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes recently explored Gomez’s trade candidacy in the subscriber-only MLBTR Newsletter.
  • The Dodgers, Astros and Cardinals all seem like fits for Kyle Lohse, rival GMs tell Heyman.  Lohse formerly pitched for the Cardinals and also has ties to Houston, as GM Jeff Luhnow was in the St. Louis front office when Lohse pitched for the team.  The surprising Astros have already been considering starting pitching upgrades, while the Dodgers (Brandon McCarthy, Hyun-jin Ryu) and Cardinals (Adam Wainwright, Jaime Garcia) are both looking to replace injured starters.
  • Matt Garza is owed roughly $35MM through the 2017 season and has a $13MM club option for 2018 that can vest into a guaranteed year.  With this in  mind, “I’m not sure anyone would want him,” a rival executive said about Garza, who has a 4.58 ERA and unimpressive peripherals over six starts.
  • Scooter Gennett received some interest from the Angels and others during the offseason and could be shopped again to clubs in need of second base help.

Brewers Notes: Attanasio, Melvin, Lucroy, Braun

Brewers owner Mark Attanasio indicated that his scuffling club is looking at all options, as Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports“Over 11 years, I’ve made some pretty tough decisions and I’m ready to make them again,” said Attanasio. “Whether it’s remodel, retool, rebuild, whatever it takes to bring winning baseball to Milwaukee is what I’m going to do. The organization always comes first to me and for everybody.” While the owner says that all members of the organization must be held accountable, he expressed confidence in GM Doug Melvin — though he also declined to address Melvin’s contract situation.

Milwaukee will face many tough questions over the coming months, and here are a few more notes on their current situation and future outlook:

  • The Brewers are telling other clubs that injured catcher Jonathan Lucroy is not available via trade,’s Buster Olney reports on Twitter. It is early, of course, and that stance could presumably always change with the right offer, but Milwaukee is presumably less than thrilled with the prospect of parting with perhaps its highest-value asset. The very same thing that makes Lucroy so appealing to the rest of the league — his top-level offensive and defensive production in an up-the-middle position at a bargain rate for multiple years — also make him an obvious player to build around in either a go-for-it or reloading scenario. Assuming his club option is picked up, the 28-year-old will earn just $12.25MM from the start of this season through 2017.
  • Whatever they may be saying in talks, the Brewers should strongly consider dealing Lucroy, in the opinion of Dave Cameron of Fangraphs. That assessment is due in part to the fact that Lucroy’s cheap contract opens up a wide array of possible trade partners, to say nothing of the dearth of other available top-end options at the catching position. Of course, it bears noting that Lucroy is off to a rough start to the year (.133/.216/.178 in 51 plate appearances) and will be sidelined for another few weeks as he rehabs a broken toe. And Martin Maldonado, his quality backup, has also failed to deliver much offensively thus far in 2015.
  • J.P. Breen of Baseball Prospectus examines Ryan Braun‘s lack of productivity, noting that Braun’s ability to handle pitches on the inner third of the plate has dramatically decreased over the past two seasons. That was understandable in 2014, Breen points out, due to a devastating nerve issue in Braun’s thumb that made it difficult for him to even shake hands with another person, let alone play baseball. Braun began starting his swing early in an effort to keep up with fastballs that he could once handle, leaving him susceptible to breaking pitches away. Breen wonders if Braun may still be working to correct some of those bad habits he developed last year. Though he’s still whiffing on inside pitches, Braun has excellent exit velocity and hard-contact numbers, indicating that if he can close the hole in his swing, he could return to his status as a premier threat. However, as Breen concludes, any significant dip in production would mean that Braun likely won’t live up to his five-year, $105MM extension — a contract that begun only this season.

Heyman’s Latest: A-Rod, BoSox, Bryant, Ventura, Gordon, Duda

In this week’s edition of his Inside Baseball column, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports begins by looking at the contentious courtroom showdown that stands between Alex Rodriguez and as much as $30MM worth of home run milestone bonuses. As Heyman notes, people on all sides of the case have reasons to dislike A-Rod. Rodriguez filed a lawsuit (that was eventually dropped) against the MLBPA, and he parted ways with agent Scott Boras more than six years ago. The Yankees’ reasons for resenting Rodriguez are obvious, as are those of the league, with whom Rodriguez battled to reduce a 212-game suspension to a still-significant 162 game ban. Heyman looks at the arguments that can be made by both sides as well as the potential fallout once the situation is finally resolved.

Some highlights from the latest edition of Heyman’s newest weekly column…

  • Though the Red Sox aren’t blinking when it comes to trade talks with the Phillies regarding Cole Hamels, one rival GM considers Boston the favorite. The Phillies quite like center field prospect Manuel Margot, and Boston does have other nice pieces. Heyman notes that one scout actually expressed concern to him about Mookie Betts‘ ability to hit the ball on the outer half of the plate, but the Sox remain steadfast in their refusal to part ways with Betts.
  • The Cubs aren’t concerned with a potential grievance being filed against them on behalf of Kris Bryant. Rather, their main concern is trying to find a way to extend him beyond his current allotment of team control. Heyman hears that Cubs are already considering trying to make him a Cub for life, though he also notes that it’s a bit early for those discussions.
  • White Sox skipper Robin Ventura signed an extension of an unreported length prior to the 2014 season, and Heyman now hears that Ventura is under contract through the 2016 season. The contract length is said to be of little importance to ChiSox owner Jerry Reinsdorf, who loves Ventura.
  • The Royals plan to try to do “whatever they can” to retain Alex Gordon beyond the 2015 season. The 32-year-old Gordon’s $12.5MM player option has increased to $13.25MM based on performance escalators, per Heyman. While Gordon has implied that he will exercise the option in the past, it’s exceptionally difficult to envision him merely picking up the option rather than trying for a highly lucrative multi-year deal. The Royals never felt they had a great shot at retaining James Shields, but their hope with Gordon is that the career Royal and Nebraska native might be easier to retain. Heyman adds that while the club is interested in trying to extend Salvador Perez beyond the 2019 season, those talks aren’t likely to come until after the season.
  • Juan Uribe is off to a decent start with the Dodgers, but the hot play of Alex Guerrero and the addition of Hector Olivera in Spring Training could eventually lead to Uribe becoming available on the trade market. Uribe’s at hasn’t lined up with his previous seasons to this point, but he’s hit a perhaps surprisingly strong .293/.333/.435 dating back to Opening Day 2013.
  • Rival executives are anxiously anticipating a Brewers fire sale following the club’s awful 5-17 start to the season, Heyman hears. One exec listed Carlos Gomez, Khris Davis, Jean Segura, Gerardo Parra, Kyle Lohse and Francisco Rodriguez as players who will draw interest, noting that Jonathan Lucroy is probably untouchable, while Matt Garza and Ryan Braun are somewhat overpriced.
  • The Mets were trying for a three-year extension that contained a club option and would’ve guaranteed Lucas Duda a bit shy of $30MM. I’d imagine that with Duda could end up the beneficiary in that scenario, particularly if he can sustain the increase in his walk rate and the more notable decrease in his strikeout rate.
  • Multiple Yankees people have shot down the notion that the team would pursue Hamels when asked by Heyman. One replied that the team is “not looking” at Hamels, while another wondered if Hamels is still a legitimate ace or more of just a big name.