Jonathan Papelbon Rumors

Stark’s Latest: Price, Phillies, O’s, Royals, Pirates

Jayson Stark of ESPN.com has a new Rumblings & Grumblings column posted in which he runs down a plethora of trade-related topics. You’ll need to read the full post to get all the information and analysis, but here are some of the highlights …

  • The Rays are waiting until next week to make any decisions on whether or not to trade ace David Price. However, as Stark points out, it could still be a difficult judgment call as to whether or not the Rays are close enough to go for it or far enough back to sell. Tampa is currently seven games back of the division lead and four and a half games back from a Wild Card berth.
  • One executive tells Stark that he’s convinced the team will move Price if they get a big enough offer. Said the exec, “They’ve really built their team by making these kinds of deals. But if the return they can get now is something they think they can get this winter, they’ll hold him.” Another exec tells Stark that waiting until the winter could reduce the return in a trade by 30 to 40 percent.
  • Stark runs down the possible landing spots for Price, calling the Dodgers the favorite, but noting that L.A. has said it will not part with both Joc Pederson and Corey Seager, even in a Price trade. The Mariners are the second choice, he notes, with the Cardinals listed third followed by the Giants and Blue Jays (both of whom are painted as long shots by Stark).
  • If the Rays do sell Price, they’ll be open for business and listen on a number of other players, including Ben Zobrist, Matt Joyce and Yunel Escobar. Their preference is to deal Price and Zobrist in separate trades, if that comes to pass.
  • The Phillies are the next team that everyone is watching, with nine players that could be moved but contractual problems surrounding many of them. Most execs feel the Phillies will eat money to facilitate deals and aren’t looking to just dump players on other clubs. Specifically, the team is in need of position-player prospects, one exec who has spoken with Philadelphia tells Stark.
  • Marlon Byrd is the most likely to be dealt, with the Mariners, Royals and Reds scouting him. The Reds, however, may not be able to take on Byrd’s remaining $3MM in 2014, and the Mariners and Royals are on his no-trade list.
  • Jonathan Papelbon and Cliff Lee aren’t likely to be dealt, executives tell Stark. In Lee’s case, they feel he’s a lock to clear waivers. One exec tells Stark that he’d be more inclined to take a chance on Lee were he a free agent, but his contract is too risky at this point.
  • Cole Hamels isn’t likely to be dealt either. It’s not that the Phillies aren’t willing to move him, it’s just that the prices they’ve specified consist of packages “that no one would possibly give up.”
  • A.J. Burnett‘s preference is indeed to return to the Pirates, but Pittsburgh would need assurances that he’s not going to exercise his player option for 2015. The Orioles‘ interest is said to be lukewarm, while the Phillies asked the Yankees and were told, “No thanks.”
  • At least half a dozen teams are in on Antonio Bastardo, whom Stark concretely says will be traded in the next week.
  • The Orioles aren’t looking for a closer upgrade over Zach Britton, but they’re looking for a rotation upgrade and a lefty reliever that’s more than just a left-on-left specialist. They’ve shown no interest in dealing Hunter Harvey or Dylan Bundy.
  • The Royals have called on virtually every right-handed hitter on the market, but they’re look specifically at right fielders, including Byrd, Alex Rios, Chris Denorfia and Dayan Viciedo. The first two of those options still look most likely.
  • Stark would be surprised if the Pirates didn’t add at least one pitcher, if not two in the next week, but it’d have to be at least a No. 3 option in terms of starters. On the relief front, they’re looking at seventh-inning arms, as they’re content with Tony Watson in the eighth and Mark Melancon in the ninth.

Reactions To The Joakim Soria Trade

Last night, the Tigers landed right-hander Joakim Soria from the Rangers in exchange for two of their top prospects — right-handers Jake Thompson and Corey Knebel. Detroit has long been said to be in pursuit of relief help, and they’ve now added one of the top bullpen arms on the market. Here are some reactions to the deal as well as a few additional bits of info about the Tigers’ trade talks…

  • Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets that Soria was the Tigers’ primary bullpen target, and they didn’t pursue former Tiger Joaquin Benoit all that aggressively before landing Soria last night.
  • Likewise, ESPN’s Jayson Stark tweets that the Tigers were never in on Philadelphia’s Jonathan Papelbon all that seriously.
  • Soria himself is very excited to join the Tigers, agent Oscar Suarez old FOX Sports’ Jon Paul Morosi (Twitter link), specifically mentioning excitement over a chance to win. That excitement isnt surprising for Soria, who didn’t have much of an opportunity at the postseason early in his career with the Royals (he wasn’t with the club for their recent improvements).
  • The Tigers have the prospect depth to add another relief arm if they wish, but it will depend on the asking price, writes Jason Beck of MLB.com. Beck notes that Detroit probably wishes to avoid too much long-term depth to the farm system, but he mentions Chad Qualls as a possibly more affordable option to pursue. Beck also reports that the initial asking price on Soria was higher than the one the Tigers ultimately wound up paying.
  • ESPN’s Keith Law understands the deal for both Detroit and Texas (Insider subscription required and recommended). While the Tigers paid a steep price, he notes that Soria will be worth about an extra win over the remainder of the season and will be featured in some very high-leverage postseason innings. From Texas’ standpoint, they get a raw but projectable 20-year-old in Thompson who needs to learn to get more plane on his fastball and develop a changeup to succeed as a starter, plus a controllable potential seventh- or eighth-inning reliever in Knebel.
  • Jim Callis of MLB.com “loves” the Rangers’ end of the deal, calling Thompson a potential No. 2 or 3 starter and noting that Knebel has closer upside (Twitter link).
  • Soria’s value in the postseason could be significant, writes Fangraphs’ Dave Cameron. Cameron examines the usage of teams’ best relievers in last year’s playoffs, noting that while a typical elite reliever throws about five percent of his team’s innings during the regular season, that number increases in the playoffs due to more off days and the increased importance of late innings. The Red Sox used Koji Uehara for 9.6 percent of their postseason innings, which translates to about 140 innings during the regular season (a value of 246 innings when accounting for the increased leverage index).
  • R.J. Anderson and Jordan Gorosh break down the trade over at Baseball Prospectus (subscription required/recommended). Anderson notes the steep price Detroit paid as well and wonders if the Tigers are done adding relievers. If Dave Dombrowski is serious about truly upgrading the bullpen (which he clearly seems to be), the Tigers should look to add another arm, Anderson opines. Meanwhile, Gorosh feels that Thompson could make an appearance on the back end of B-Pro’s offseason Top 101 prospects list, writing that he has the potential to be a “very strong No. 4 starter” and could have been the best pitching prospect in Detroit’s system (thereby implying that he likes him better than Robbie Ray).

NL East Notes: Colon, Byrd, Lee, Papelbon, Zimmerman

Here’s the latest out of the National League East:

  • For the Mets, trading and replacing starter Bartolo Colon would be a more natural step in the club’s progression than moving second baseman Daniel Murphy, making a trade of the former much more likely, according to Andy Martino of the New York Daily News. As for Colon, the scouts watching the Mets’ game today against the Mariners were probably not there to see him, according to Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com (via Twitter). Of course, word will surely get around of his strong outing; Colon carried a perfect game into the 7th before Robinson Cano broke it up. He ultimately allowed three hits, two earned runs, and a walk while striking out five.
  • The Phillies are still listening to trade interest in outfielder Marlon Byrd, tweets ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick. As yet, however, Philadelphia’s asking price has been too high for a buyer to pull the trigger.
  • Phillies hurler Cliff Lee would clear waivers in August, rival evaluators tell ESPN.com’s Buster Olney (Twitter link). Lee’s first outing back from the DL was not promising. As Olney explains (Insider link), however, short samples are important for evaluations of players’ current health and productivity, and that works both ways here. Lee will have one more chance before the deadline (and, presumably, more in August) to boost his value.
  • The already somewhat marginal trade outlook of Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon has been clouded even further by two straight poor appearances and this evening’s trade of Joakim Soria to the Tigers. Among the contenders in need of help at the back of the bullpen, the Angels and Tigers seemed among the more likely to take on significant salary rather than dealing prospects for cheaper arms. But both clubs did the latter, taking away two possible landing spots for the veteran righty.
  • Ryan Zimmerman of the Nationals appears to have suffered a “pretty substantial” strain of his right hamstring, manager Matt Williams told reporters including Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post (Twitter link). The third baseman/left fielder seems likely to be out a few weeks at least, though his prognosis remains undetermined. As Kilgore wrote earlier today, the injury could lead the Nats to look into acquiring a second or third baseman before the deadline (with Anthony Rendon playing the alternative position). GM Mike Rizzo said that the team was content with playing Danny Espinosa at second for the time being, but Kilgore notes that players such as Aaron Hill or especially Martin Prado of the Diamondbacks could make sense as trade targets.


Multiple Teams Scouting Antonio Bastardo

With multiple teams on the lookout for bullpen help, left-hander Antonio Bastardo is drawing some significant trade interest, reports Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com. Sources tell Salisbury that the Royals are very interested in Bastardo, while the Tigers, Pirates and Blue Jays are all in the mix as well. All four teams have scouted each of Philadelphia’s past two games (Salisbury notes that the Tigers are also believed to be keeping an eye on Jonathan Papelbon).

The 28-year-old Bastardo makes sense as a trade chip for the Phillies, whose large commitments to veterans and willingness to include no-trade clauses and vesting options in their contracts has left them with few pieces that are both movable and desirable. Bastardo is both of those, however, as he’s owed just $2MM in 2014 and is controlled through 2015 as an arbitration eligible player. He’s also had good results this season, having compiled a 3.27 ERA with 10.8 K/9, 4.9 BB/9 and a 33.7 percent ground-ball rate. Bastardo has been effective against both left-handed hitters (.616 OPS) and right-handed hitters (.634 OPS) throughout his career.

The Reds have also been connected to Bastardo this month, and the Braves have been known to be seeking a southpaw for their bullpen as well (though the usual intra-division caveat applies). Interested teams do have some alternatives, including James Russell and Wesley Wright of the Cubs, and possibly Andrew Miller of the Red Sox.


Rosenthal’s Latest: Milone, Phillies, White Sox

The Cubs have the prospect depth necessary to acquire David Price from the Rays, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal writes, and acquiring Price (and then extending him past 2015) is just the kind of big move Rosenthal feels the Cubs need to get them into contention sooner rather than later.  Price is intrigued by the idea of playing in Chicago, friends of the southpaw say, and Cubs minor league pitching coordinator Derek Johnson was Price’s pitching coach at Vanderbilt.

Here’s some hot stove buzz from Rosenthal’s latest piece…

  • The Athletics are getting calls about left-hander Tommy Milone, who lost his rotation job when Oakland acquired Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel from the Cubs.  The 27-year-old Milone is controlled through 2017 and has a 3.84 ERA, 3.23 K/BB rate and 6.5 K/9 over 468 2/3 career innings, though his significant home/road splits could make some teams wary about his effectiveness outside of Oakland.  The A’s aren’t too keen to move Milone since they value having rotation depth.
  • The Phillies are willing to eat some money on their major veteran contracts in order “to effectively buy prospects” in trades, though with teams so hesitant to move their young talent, Philadelphia might be better served by just pursuing salary relief.
  • Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon “is generating little interest,” sources tell Rosenthal.
  • Many of the would-be best trade chips on the White Sox aren’t producing, which could make it tough for the Pale Hose to make deadline deals.  Gordon Beckham and Alejandro De Aza, for instance, look more like non-tender candidates than valuable acquisitions in the view of one rival executive.  John Danks might be the most attractive trade candidate on the Chicago roster, while the Sox might wait until the winter to explore dealing Alexei Ramirez when the trade market is more open.
  • The Blue Jays‘ search for offense could be mitigated by the impending returns of Edwin Encarnacion, Adam Lind and Brett Lawrie from the DL within the next week or two.  Toronto GM Alex Anthopoulos said yesterday that he was still looking to add a bat before the trade deadline.
  • Eugenio Suarez has played well enough at shortstop that Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski doesn’t think his team will look for an upgrade at the position before the deadline.  Rosenthal notes that Suarez’s presence could create a bit of a logjam next season when Jose Iglesias returns from injury.
  • The Tigers do have a need for more lineup balance, as the team is short on left-handed hitters.
  • With so little prospect depth, Rosenthal thinks the Yankees‘ best trade strategy would be to offer salary relief for large contracts.  In hindsight, Rosenthal writes, the Yankees might’ve been better off trading Robinson Cano for prospects last summer, even though being a deadline seller is unheard of for the always-contending Yankees.

NL West Notes: Kemp, Papelbon, Geivett, Padres

Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp doesn’t necessarily want to be traded, but he would welcome a deal that would allow him to man center field on an everyday basis with a new team, agent Dave Stewart told Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports yesterday. Rosenthal notes, however, that GM Ned Colletti is a bit hesitant to part with Kemp’s right-handed bat, as that would leave the team with just one surefire right-handed power threat in the everyday lineup in 2015: Yasiel Puig. (Hanley Ramirez, of course, is a free agent at season’s end.) Another major roadblock is the roughly $107MM remaining on Kemp’s contract through the 2019 season.

Here’s more on the Dodgers and the rest of the NL West…

  • Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles now debunks one of his own reports, tweeting that he’s been told the Dodgers are not interested in Jonathan Papelbon. Yesterday, a baseball source told Saxon he expected the club to pursue the Philadelphia closer.
  • Rockies owner Dick Monfort appeared on 850 KOA-AM radio with Dave Logan and Susie Wargin, and MLB.com’s Thomas Harding provides some highlights from the discussion. Most notably, after Monfort defended GM Dan O’Dowd by saying he judged O’Dowd’s success on more than just the club’s win-loss record, he was asked who should take the blame for the record: “You would have to say it’s [Rockies senior vice president of Major League operations and assistant GM] Bill Geivett,” said Monfort. “He’s responsible for the Major League team. Now, the talent that gets into the Major League team, [that] is the responsibility of scouting and development.” Monfort declined to comment when asked if all of the club’s decision-makers would return next season, but he did say he “stand[s] by the job that everybody does.”
  • The San Diego Union-Tribune’s staff runs down the list of each Padres GM candidate and explains the reasons that they have a chance at the job as well as the reason that each could lose out to another candidate. Since the publishing of that article, four candidates have already been eliminated, and the finalists now are Red Sox AGM Mike Hazen, Rangers AGM A.J. Preller, Yankees AGM Billy Eppler and MLB senior vice president of baseball operations Kim Ng.
  • Earlier today, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported that Kevin Towers could join the Padres front office as a senior advisor if he his dismissed from his post with the D’Backs. Padres CEO Mike Dee now tells Rosenthal (Twitter links): “Any new hires in the front office will be up to the new GM. Kevin Towers is not a candidate for that position. Thus, any speculation about Kevin rejoining the Padres is just that, speculation.” 

NL Notes: Papelbon, Mets, Cubs

Here’s the latest out of the National League:

  • The Dodgers could potentially look to acquire Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon, according to a tweet from Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com. A source tells Saxon that he expects Los Angeles to pursue the 33-year-old righty, who is carrying a 1.21 ERA with 8.0 K/9 against 2.2 BB/9 in his third year in Philly. Long considered one of the worst contracts in baseball, Papelbon’s deal is actually looking less onerous as he continues to produce results and its timeline shortens. On top of his $13MM salary this season, Papelbon is owed $13MM next year and comes with a vesting option at that same rate for 2016. The option would become guaranteed if he finishes 55 games next year or 100 total between 2014-15. He has topped 50 games finished in each of the last seven years and is on pace to do so once again.
  • Did the Mets waste star third baseman David Wright‘s best years? That is the question posed by Joel Sherman of the New York Post, who notes that the 31-year-old has battled injuries and is hitting well off of his career pace even after a hot streak. Though the club’s young talent has real promise of delivering a rebound for the franchise, Sherman wonders if everything will congeal while Wright is still a top-end contributor.
  • For that reason and many others, Mets GM Sandy Alderson finds himself in something of a delicate position heading out of the All-Star break, as David Lennon of Newsday writes. While the club has pulled itself into shouting distance of the post-season picture, neither does it look like a prime time to buy. Selling players like Daniel Murphy and Bartolo Colon would not only run some public relations and attendance risks, but could lessen the club’s chances in 2015. On the other hand, standing pat might mean foregoing an opportunity to bolster the team’s talent base and opening payroll space for the coming offseason.
  • While the Cubs appear to have a surplus of top position prospects, along with a few talented younger bats at the MLB level, that does not mean that there is any rush to move pieces around, writes Dave Cameron of Fangraphs. Not all prospects transition to the big leagues, of course, and in any event most of the team’s better pre-major league pieces appear to offer sufficient positional flexibility that Chicago will have plenty of options in the unlikely event that they all pan out.

Angels Don’t Match Up For Kennedy, Still Pursuing Street

The Angels and Padres don’t match up on a deal for right-hander Ian Kennedy, sources tell Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, but the two sides are still discussing closer Huston Street (Twitter link). Rosenthal notes that the Padres are still listening to offers from other clubs with interest in Kennedy.

The Angels have been connected to Street several times, and the pitcher himself even said he would welcome a trade to the Halos when asked by Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times. That’s not to say that Street wants to be traded to Anaheim — he’s said multiple times that he loves San Diego — but rather that if he is traded, he’d prefer it to be to a contending team. Street also told Shaikin how exciting the concept of playing alongside names like Mike Trout and Albert Pujols would be, and he offered high praise for manager Mike Scioscia.

According to Shaikin, the Angels prefer Street to Jonathan Papelbon and Joakim Soria. Street, who has pitched to a 1.09 ERA with 9.3 K/9 and 1.9 BB/9 in 33 innings this season, is earning $7MM and has a $7MM club option on his contract for 2015. As such, the price tag on him is likely to be fairly substantial, though not as steep as the presumed price tag on Kennedy.

As far as Kennedy goes, it’s not entirely surprising that the two sides don’t match up. The Angels’ weak farm system has been well documented, and there’s been a great deal of speculation that they could have trouble landing significant upgrades on the trade market. In a second piece, Shaikin spoke with GM Jerry Dipoto, who said that he doesn’t want to deal any pieces from his big league roster in trades.

That, of course, implies that a young player who could be of interest to a rebuilding club, such as slugging first baseman/DH C.J. Cron, isn’t likely to find himself as part of a trade. As Shaikin writes, Dipoto knows that means he doesn’t have the pieces to acquire David Price, but the team is still in active pursuit of pitching upgrades. Based on all of these reports, it seems that Street is the primary target for the time being, though I’d expect the Angels to cast a wide net over the next few weeks.


Latest On Huston Street And Closer Market

With his club sitting 12 games back in the NL West at the All-Star break, Padres closer Huston Street certainly looks to be a prime trade candidate. The 30-year-old righty owns a 1.09 ERA through 33 games and 33 frames on the year, with a sparkling 9.3 K/9 against 1.9 BB/9. This is his third straight season of sub-3.00 ERA work. Street is playing on a $7MM salary for 2014, and can be controlled for $7MM next season via club option.

Here’s the latest news on Street and the rest of the closer market:

  • Street expects to be dealt, he tells Jim Bowden on MLB Network Radio on Sirius XM (Twitter link). The club has approached him to discuss that possibility, he adds.
  • San Diego has had enough discussions regarding Street that a deal does indeed appear likely, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. The club is, however, somewhat hesitant to part with both Street and set-up man Joaquin Benoit, Heyman adds.
  • The Angels are one club looking at Street, reports Heyman. The club’s interest was reported yesterday by Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Los Angeles has also considered Jonathan Papelbon of the Phillies, but his contract is an obvious turn-off. (On the other hand, of course, he would presumably require less of a prospect return to acquire.)
  • Also weighing a move on Street are the Pirates, says Heyman. The Orioles and Giants have been mentioned by sources as other speculative possibilities. But Heyman says that those clubs appear more likely to prioritize rotation help.
  • Though the Tigers have been mentioned as a team that could conceivably be interested in late-inning relief help, Heyman says that Detroit has not indicated interest in bringing in an option to challenge or supplant Joe Nathan.

Papelbon Willing To Waive No-Trade Clause For Trade To Contender

Jonathan Papelbon is willing to waive his no-trade clause in order to facilitate a deal to a contending team, reports Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer (Twitter links). Gelb quotes the Philadelphia closer: “Some guys want to stay on a losing team? That’s mind-boggling to me. I think that’s a no-brainer.”

Papelbon’s comments are a stark contrast to the comments made by teammates Jimmy Rollins (link) and Chase Utley (link), each of whom recently indicated that they prefer to remain in Philadelphia even if the team begins selling veteran pieces this month.

Papelbon is in the midst of his best season in years, having pitched to a 1.27 ERA with 7.9 K/9, 2.3 BB/9 and a 37 percent ground-ball rate. His strikeout rate and 91.4 mph average fastball velocity are both career-lows, but Papelbon has been effective nonetheless.

However, Papelbon is owed $5.83MM through season’s end and is also guaranteed a hefty $13MM in 2015. Beyond that, he has a $13MM vesting option for 2016 that triggers with 55 games finished in 2015 or 100 games finished from 2014-15 (he finished his 30th game tonight). As such, the Phillies will likely have to kick in some cash to facilitate a trade. Plenty of contending clubs are looking for bullpen help, including deep-pocketed teams such as the Tigers and Angels.