Jonathan Lucroy Rumors

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 MLB.com 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, MLB.com’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 MLB.com 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 MLB.com’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, ESPN.com’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.

Central Notes: Harris, Verlander, Lucroy

The Cardinals are set to promote righty reliever Mitch Harris on Tuesday, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch tweets. When Harris makes his first pitch with the Cardinals, he’ll become the first graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy to pitch in the big leagues in nearly a century, as Yahoo! Sports’ Jeff Passan wrote last month. The Cardinals drafted the 29-year-old Harris in the 13th round all the way back in 2008, but Harris spent several years honoring his commitment to the Navy, traveling the world as a weapons officer. The Navy didn’t allow him to join the Cardinals organization until the 2013 season. Once he did, though, the Cards moved him quickly through the minors, and after a handful of innings at Triple-A Memphis, he appears set to make his big-league debut. Perhaps that will come in Washington, where the Cardinals play tomorrow through Thursday. Here are two more quick notes from the Central divisions.

  • Justin Verlander‘s MRI last Thursday confirmed the Tigers‘ initial diagnosis that he has a strained right triceps, James Schmehl of MLive.com writes. He won’t throw anymore until his arm stops feeling sore. Schmehl notes that Verlander is currently on the disabled list for the first time in his ten-year career. He has not yet pitched this season.
  • In other injury news, Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy is headed to the disabled list with a broken left toe, MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy tweets. The loss of one of their superstars is an awful blow to a Brewers team that’s already in a 2-10 hole this season. Lucroy was hitting .167/.250/.214 in 48 plate appearances in 2015. Martin Maldonado will, presumably, handle the bulk of the Brewers’ catching duties in his place.

Central Notes: Lucroy Injury, Iglesias, Twins, Shields

The Brewers announced today that a mild right hamstring strain will cost All-Star catcher Jonathan Lucroy four to six weeks of action in Spring Training. Obviously, that news brings into question whether or not Lucroy can be ready for Opening Day with the Brewers. As Adam McCalvy of MLB.com writes, however, Lucroy recently had a platelet-rich plasma injection in his hamstring to speed the recovery process and believes he will be ready come Opening Day. The team does have a serviceable backup in Martin Maldonado, should Lucroy’s recovery take longer than expected, but even missing a few weeks of Lucroy’s bat and elite glove could be a significant detriment in what figures to be a highly competitive NL Central Division. (For more on Lucroy’s defense, check out this excellent article by Rob Arthur of Baseball Prospectus detailing the effect of pitch-framing not only on called strikes but on expanding a hitter’s swing profile.)

Here are a few more notes from the game’s Central divisions…

  • Cuban right-hander Raisel Iglesias, signed by the Reds to a seven-year, $27MM contract last summer, has a legitimate chance to end up in Cincinnati’s rotation, writes John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer in looking at 10 pertinent questions facing the Reds as Spring Training approaches. Scouts in the Arizona Fall League and manager Bryan Price all raved to Fay about Iglesias’ AFL performance. “Four pitches with command — that spells out starting pitcher, especially when it’s plus-stuff across the board,” Price said. “He was 93-97, so the velocity is there. The action on his fastball is there, much better changeup than I anticipated seeing and two quality breaking balls and a good feel.” If Iglesias can indeed crack the rotation, that could be a significant boost to a team that saw both Mat Latos and Alfredo Simon depart via trade this winter.
  • Phil Mackey of 1500 ESPN writes that he has been asked by Twins fans, and wondered himself, why Minnesota didn’t go on a Padres-like tear to restructure their roster into a win-now club. While Mackey concedes that Minnesota’s deep farm system makes it possible to have done something similar, he points out that the Padres had a lower payroll to start with than the Twins and even after their flurry of moves are now on par with Minnesota. Additionally, San Diego’s method comes with plenty of risk, as Justin Upton looks to be a one-year rental, and the team has taken the risk that Matt Kemp‘s arthritic hips will hold up, and James Shields‘ productivity will continue through age 36. Mackey looks at recent winter remakes by the 2008 Tigers and Mariners, the 2012 Marlins and 2013 Blue Jays and notes that none have been successful (though Detroit eventually emerged as a perennial contender). Ultimately, he concludes, his preference is for a long-term, sustainable run at success with a deep farm system, such as the one currently possessed by the Twins.
  • Twins VP of player personnel Mike Radcliff and several scouts were on hand today to watch Cuban right-hander Yadier Alvarez in the Dominican Republic, tweets Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN. Just 18 years old, Alvarez was clocked between 93 and 97 mph and received positive words from Fangraphs prospect/scouting guru Kiley McDaniel earlier today.
  • Though the Royals will miss Shields’ arm in their rotation, he gave them exactly what they needed at a time they needed it the most, writes MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan. Shields helped instill a winning culture in the Royals’ clubhouse, bringing a “swagger and a level of confidence that we didn’t have before,” GM Dayton Moore explained to Flanagan. Shields created a belief among his teammates that they could win on any given night and orchestrated elaborate victory celebrations. Not only that, but he became a role model for young arms such as Danny Duffy and Yordano Ventura“He was a tremendous help to me,” Duffy told Flanagan. “You learn so much just talking to him.” In addition to those intangible benefits, of course, the Royals got two years of excellent production and the No. 33 pick in the 2015 draft.

Quick Hits: DePodesta, Sternberg, Lucroy

We at MLBTR tend to focus on transactions, but the big news of tonight comes from Baltimore, where catcher Caleb Joseph homered for a fifth straight game. The Orioles catcher had hit just three major league home runs before his current onslaught. Last season, he did pop an impressive 22 home runs for the O’s Double-A affiliate. Prior to tonight, Joseph was hitting .220/.281/.401 on the season.

  • Last August, Mets Assistant GM Paul DePodesta discussed Moneyball misconceptions and the role of analysis in an interesting interview with Nautilus. Among the many topics, DePodesta talked about the importance of putting themselves in a position to get lucky. The Mets system certainly reflects that thought process. While the club has yet to succeed at the major league level, they are beginning to receive meaningful contributions from somewhat unexpected sources like Lucas Duda and Jacob deGrom.
  • Rays owner Stuart Sternberg doesn’t regret trading David Price despite the club’s current three game winning streak, writes Bill Chastain of MLB.com. Said Sternberg, “It really was the classic one-eye-on-the-present, one-eye-on-the-future kind of deal.” The Rays remain 10 games back in the AL East and five games back in the Wild Card race. Sternberg does regret failing to acquire a big bat after losing in the 2010 division series. 
  • Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy isn’t interested in following the Joe Mauer model, according to Tom Haudricourt. “I feel like I’d go from an above-average catcher to an average first baseman,” said Lucroy. Defensive measures rate him as among the best backstops in the game, and his current batting line (.307/.374/.493) is strikingly similar to that of Adrian Beltre. Lucroy recently missed a game with a hamstring issue, but that’s a far cry from the issues plaguing Mauer.