Jonathan Papelbon Rumors

Rosenthal’s Latest: Papelbon, Marlins, Padres, Angels, Twins

The Marlins showed interest in Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon right around when they fired Mike Redmond, reports Ken Rosenthal in his latest video for FOX Sports. However, it’s unclear if the club will buy after a slow start to the season. Prior to the season they promised Giancarlo Stanton that they will aim to compete, but there may come a point where it makes more sense to trade some of the higher priced mercenaries. Players like Mike Morse, Dan Haren, and Mike Dunn could find themselves on the trade block. Here’s more from Rosenthal.

  • The Padres are scouting the Brewers for a shortstop. They may lack the prospects to acquire Jean Segura, but San Diego GM A.J. Preller is familiar with Luis Sardinas from his days in the Rangers system. The Brewers are also taking calls on right-hander Mike Fiers, but they’re not interested in trading him.
  • The Angels have plenty of starting pitching depth to acquire offensive firepower. They could call upon Andrew Heaney if they trade a major leaguer pitcher. Alternatively, Heaney or Nick Tropeano could be offered in a swap. The Halos also have Tyler Skaggs and Sean Newcomb as long term options. Skaggs is rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. Newcomb is working his way through the system (currently in High-A) after being selected 15th overall last June.
  • The Twins aren’t yet buyers, but they’ll receive reinforcements when Ervin Santana and Casey Fien return to action. Santana is eligible to return from his PED suspension on July 4. Fien is currently on the disabled list. The club has received poor production from center field and designated hitter. They could stick with Aaron Hicks in center with Kennys Vargas as the primary designated hitter, but the addition of a “big bopper” would improve the overall outlook. My own speculation: I wonder if a combination of Ben Revere and Ryan Howard would make sense – assuming the Phillies ate enough cash.

Quick Hits: Mock Draft, Upton, Papelbon, Verlander, Rondon

Early mock drafts continue to roll out, with MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo and Jim Callis releasing their first effort at spitballing the always hard-to-call results. The MLB.com team pegs high school outfielder Daz Cameron — son of longtime big leaguer Mike Cameron — as the likeliest current optiton for the Rangers at fourth overall.

Here are a few more notes from around the game:

  • The Padres expect outfielder Melvin Upton to begin a rehab stint in the near future given the improvement in his foot injury, MLB.com’s Corey Brock writes in response to a reader question. San Diego probably will not have any decisions to make until the start of June, says Brock, which is probably the earliest he’ll be ready to come off of the DL. What happens at that point remains to be seen, of course, but Brock notes that the club could theoretically give Wil Myers more time at first base to afford Upton a useful place on the roster — and a chance to attempt to return to form. In truth, Upton represents a free roll for the Friars, who took on his salary only to facilitate the addition of Craig Kimbrel. But the team has every incentive to see if it can get him back on track.
  • The market for Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon has evolved significantly over time, of course, and figures to continue to do so as the summer draws near. Corey Seidman of CSNPhilly.com argues that the Marlins currently make the most sense as a trade partner for Papelbon, whose contract appears more and more manageable over time — particularly as he continues to produce on the field. We just saw reports that the Fish are indeed exploring external options to bolster their pen, of course, and Papelbon remains an intriguing option. While I agree with Seidman that the division rivals would probably not hesitate to deal with one another, I wonder whether Miami would have the appetite for Papelbon’s still-hefty salary (he’s owed $13MM this year and $13MM next if his option vests).
  • The Tigers watched bullpens from two important right-handers today, as Jon Morosi of FOX Sports and Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press report (Twitter links). Starter Justin Verlander threw twenty pitches and left pitching coach Jeff Jones “very pleased,” while reliever Bruce Rondon also took a turn on the bump. Detroit ranks toward the upper-middle of the pack in terms of run prevention thus far in 2015, but the club has relied more than it might prefer on the largely untested Kyle Lobstein in the rotation and could certainly use a quality set-up man at the back of the pen. The progress of Verlander and Rondon, then, is likely to have a significant impact on the team’s summer plans.

Cafardo On Hamels, Rays, Red Sox

The Phillies are “waiting with open arms” to find the right trade for at least one of their big-name veteran players, a major league official tells Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe.  That list of big names, of course, includes ace Cole Hamels, though Jonathan Papelbon and Chase Utley could also be moved, Cafardo writes.  Amaro recently told reporters that he’s willing to eat part of Hamels’ contract in a trade if necessary, and that could help bring about a deal for the Phillies.  More from today’s column..

  • Major league sources tell Cafardo that the tampering investigation brought by Rays owner Stuart Sternberg against the Cubs for their hiring of Joe Maddon was reopened when Sternberg objected to the original verdict.  In the end, however, it was found that there was no tampering in the negotiations.
  • Marlins GM Dan Jennings thought he had trade possibilities for catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who was designated for assignment last week. He’s currently in the 10-day limbo period in which he could be traded, claimed, or put on waivers.
  • Scouts are still waiting for Red Sox outfielder/first baseman Allen Craig to bust out and it appears Boston is going to play him more to boost his trade value.  Cafardo notes that Craig has historically hit well in the month of May.
  • The Red Sox are trying to create roster versatility by using players at different positions. Shortstop Deven Marrero is the team’s latest experiment after seeing time at second base. One NL scout isn’t so wild about the concept. “He’s a terrific athlete so he’ll do well at the other positions, but this is the type of guy where you know he’s a terrific shortstop so why mess around with that?” said the scout. “He’s got high confidence as a shortstop and now you’re reducing that confidence level by making him play positions he’s not used to.


2016 Vesting Options Update

Several notable players could see their 2016 statuses change depending on whether or not they unlock vesting options in their current contracts.  With the opening month of the 2015 season almost in the books, let’s check in on the progress each of these players are making towards those getting those options to vest…

  • Chase Utley: The veteran second baseman has a $15MM vesting option for 2016 that becomes guaranteed if he makes 500 plate appearances.  (If he doesn’t, it becomes a team option worth between $5MM-$11MM depending on how much time Utley spends on the DL, with a $2MM buyout.)  Utley has received 81 PA while playing in 21 of the Phillies’ first 22 games, so he is well on the way to having his option vest despite a very rough start — only a .398 OPS and two homers this season, thanks to an incredibly low .102 BABIP.  There is little chance the Phils would let Utley walk for nothing this winter, especially when they could obtain something for him in a trade this summer if Utley agrees to waive his no-trade clause.
  • Jonathan Papelbon: The Phillies closer’s 2016 vesting option is one of the reasons why he hasn’t yet been traded, as other teams have been wary about acquiring a reliever with such a potentially large price tag.  Papelbon’s $13MM vests if he finishes 55 games this season, or posts a combined 100 games finished between 2014-15.  The stopper finished 52 games last year and has seven finishes thus far in 2015, putting him on pace for that guaranteed salary next year.
  • David Ortiz: If Ortiz makes at least 425 PA and passes a physical after the season, Boston’s $10MM team option on his services for 2016 will become guaranteed at $11MM (or more, depending on how many plate appearances Ortiz makes).  Ortiz has only had less than 425 PA in two of the last 14 seasons, so barring any injury setbacks for Big Papi, this one seems like a safe bet to vest.
  • Joaquin Benoit: The Padres hold an $8MM team option on Benoit for 2016, but the righty can turn that into a guaranteed option if he finishes at least 55 games this season.  Benoit’s chances are pretty remote, as he was relegated to setup man duties after San Diego acquired Craig Kimbrel.
  • Marlon Byrd: His original two-year, $16MM deal with the Phillies included an $8MM club option for 2016 that becomes guaranteed if he reaches 600 PA this season, or a total of 1100 PA over 2014-15 with at least 550 PA this season.  Byrd received 637 PA last season and he has 74 PA over 20 games with the Reds in 2015.  He should continue to get regular playing time for Cincinnati though Byrd is off to a slow start — a .441 OPS with no walks and 24 strikeouts.
  • Santiago Casilla: The Giants righty signed a three-year, $15MM deal in the 2012-13 offseason that contained a vesting option, though little is known about the option’s value or specifics.
  • Nori Aoki: The Giants’ $5.5MM club option on Aoki for 2016 will become a mutual option if Aoki reaches 550 PA.  The outfielder is hitting well and his 102 PA currently leads the league, so he’s well ahead of the pace to vest his option.
  • Jonny Gomes: The Braves outfielder can guaranteed another year on his contract (at a $3MM salary) if he makes 325 PA, and he can unlock higher salaries at the 425 PA and 500 PA plateaus.  Gomes has thus far received 47 PA over 15 games, putting him in decent shape for at least the first level of his vesting option.

We already know that Cliff Lee won’t achieve the innings totals required for his 2016 option to vest.  The Phillies southpaw is attempting to recover from a torn left flexor tendon without undergoing surgery and is currently on the 60-day DL.  Dodgers reliever Brandon League is also recovering from a right shoulder injury and thus stands virtually no chance of reaching the games-finished totals required to allow his 2016 player option to vest.


Cole Hamels Rumors: Thursday

Here’s the latest trade buzz about Phillies lefty Cole Hamels

  • “The Cubs have continued to touch base with the Phillies” about Hamels, sources tell Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times.  The likes of Kris Bryant or Addison Russell are “unquestionably off the table,” yet Chicago has enough prospect depth to get the Phillies’ attention.  Whether it’s Hamels or another notable arm, Wittenmyer expects the Cubs to target starting pitching at the trade deadline.
  • The Red Sox have long been connected to Hamels in trade talks, and while those rumors have primarily swirled around Mookie Betts and Blake Swihart, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe notes that the Phillies also “like” Sox youngsters Jackie Bradley, Deven Marrero, Eduardo Rodriguez, Brian Johnson and possibly others.  The Phillies have been insisting on Swihart or Betts in any Hamels deal and the Sox have been firm that neither player is being traded.  Also from Cafardo’s mailbag piece, he feels Boston should add an ace but thinks the team will give Rodriguez or Johnson a shot in the rotation before they make a major trade to upgrade their pitching.
  • Of course, there is no evidence that the Phillies will trade Hamels (or Jonathan Papelbon) any time soon, if at all.  GM Ruben Amaro said as much to MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki, noting that “I have no mandate to trade players. These are not financial deals. These are baseball deals. That’s the beauty of the flexibility our ownership group is giving us. This is really about doing baseball deals. We don’t have to move money.”

AL East Notes: Papelbon, Holt, Romero, Paredes

The Phillies have been trying to sell the Red Sox on a reunion with Jonathan Papelbon in light of Koji Uehara‘s decline in velocity, reports the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo. Uehara’s average heater is down to 86.2 mph, according to Fangraphs, which is leading to an alarming reliance on his splitter — a pitch he’s thrown upwards of 85 percent of the time this season, per PITCHf/x. Cafardo looks up and down the Sox roster, noting that uncertainty abounds not only in the rotation, but in the lineup as well.

More from Boston and the AL East…

  • Tony La Russa’s handling of super utility player Tony Phillips in the late 1980s has served as at least somewhat of a blueprint for Red Sox manager John Farrell’s usage of Brock Holt, writes WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford. La Russa spoke with Bradford about the importance of using a player like Phillips (or Holt) to keep the rest of the lineup fresh, particularly when that versatile asset is one of the team’s better hitters. Holt may or may not be one of Boston’s top bats — the lineup is loaded with talent, after all — but it’s hard to look past the .293/.344/.397 line he’s tallied dating back to Opening Day 2014.
  • Brendan Kennedy of the Toronto Star details the Blue Jays‘ decision to part ways with embattled left-hander Ricky Romero. GM Alex Anthopoulos explained to Kennedy that the Blue Jays didn’t feel Romero would recover from a double knee operation in time to contribute by season’s end, and they therefore opted to part with in order to “give him the opportunity to get a head start somewhere else.” Romero did not request his release from Toronto, per Anthopoulos, who spoke highly of a pitcher who was formerly seen as a building block in Toronto. “He’s done everything we’ve asked him to do,” said Anthopoulos. “He’s worked tremendously hard. We don’t have anything but the highest praise for the way he’s gone about it…” The GM added that to this day, he’s still not sure if anyone has an explanation as to what caused the chronic knee problems that seemed to derail Romero’s career.
  • The decision to re-acquire Jimmy Paredes after first losing him on waivers to the Royals is paying off significantly for the Orioles, writes MASNsports.com’s Steve Melewski. Baltimore lost Paredes to waivers last offseason and acquired him for cash in July. Since that time, he’s batted a collective .352/.374/.636 with the O’s. Paredes won’t sustain a BABIP near .400, but he’s shown more power than most likely expected and could be a valuable utility piece going forward.

Latest From Rosenthal: Papelbon, Braun, Young, Redmond

Some within the industry believe the Nationals should trade for Jonathan Papelbon and install Drew Storen as the setup man, says Ken Rosenthal with FOX Sports (video link). While there is some concern over Papelbon’s velocity, he’s off to a great start and “never misses his spots.” His $13MM vesting option for 2016 remains an obstacle. Rosenthal notes that the Tigers and Blue Jays are other possible destinations. I agree that these three clubs could all use relief help. To me, it makes more sense for the Nationals to address their bullpen at the trade deadline. The Blue Jays have a tougher path to the postseason, so they could really use the reinforcements now. Here’s more from Rosenthal.

  • The Brewers may shift to a rebuilding stance, and teams are in constant contact about Carlos Gomez and Jean Segura. Another star, Ryan Braun, will be difficult to trade. He’s slumped to start the season. He’s owed $105MM through 2020, and his no trade clause includes every team by the Angels, Dodgers, Nationals, Rays, and Marlins.
  • Yankees GM Brian Cashman credits his analytics department for recommending Chris Young. The outfielder is off to a blazing start with four home runs and a .357/.426/.762 line in 48 plate appearances. The Yankees have become familiar with buying low. They also acquired Chris Capuano, Martin Prado, and Brandon McCarthy at discount prices.
  • The Marlins are en route to their fourth consecutive victory, but manager Mike Redmond may remain on the hot seat. As one insider told Rosenthal, once owner Jeffrey Loria gets an idea in his head, “he can’t let it go.” If that’s the case, Redmond will need his team to go on an impressive streak.

Phillies Notes: Papelbon, Billingsley, Rotation

Asked by Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com if he’ll be disappointed if he isn’t traded to a contending team this year, Jonathan Papelbon replied, “Yeah, I will be, if we continue to lose.” Papelbon again voiced a preference to win with the Phillies, stating that “there’s no better reward than that,” though clearly that isn’t looking likely, as the Phils are off to a 5-11 start with a -33 run differential. More than anything, it seems that Papelbon wants to avoid a season full of trade rumors without a deal coming to fruition. “I will be disappointed if this continues to happen,” said Papelbon. “If we continue to do the same things as we’ve done the last couple years with me, where we try to do something and get something done with me and then nothing still happens.”

In more Papelbon/Phillies-related news…

  • Salisbury’s colleague, Corey Seidman, feels that the league has undervalued Papelbon recently due to his abrasive personality, his contract and his diminished velocity. However, as Seidman notes, Papelbon has been working with diminished velocity dating back to Opening Day 2014, and he’s still pitching excellently, throwing an increased amount of sliders and effectively working the corners of the strike zone more than in previous years. Seidman speculatively lists the Blue Jays, Tigers and Nationals as fits for Papelbon. He also runs down the number of struggling, injured or already-replaced closers in the league just 16 days into the season, using that as evidence to suggest that further openings will surface this summer.
  • The Phillies announced this morning that Chad Billingsley will continue a rehab assignment tomorrow night with Triple-A Lehigh Valley as he works toward his Phillies debut. To this point, Billingsley has allowed three runs on six hits and three walks with seven strikeouts in 8 1/3 innings at Triple-A as he builds his pitch count and gets re-acclimated with pitching in game situations.
  • Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News spoke with Dustin McGowan following yesterday’s spot start, and McGowan says he’s not sure if he’ll be asked to start again following an outing with mixed results. As Lawrence notes, McGowan did well, given the circumstances. He fired three scoreless innings to open the game after being given less than 24 hours notice that he’d be starting, but fell apart in the fourth inning. That, perhaps, should not have been unexpected, as he hadn’t thrown more than 28 pitches in a game since last May. Manager Ryne Sandberg told Lawrence that the Phillies didn’t consider promoting one of their younger arms to fill the short-term spot in the starting rotation. Billingsley, he notes, may be ready to join the club by May 8-10, but he has another two weeks remaining on his rehab assignment.

NL Notes: Papelbon, Kimbrel, Padres, Castro

The Padres expressed some mild interest in Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon earlier in the offseason, MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki reports. Obviously, San Diego no longer looks like an even hypothetical landing spot for Papelbon. It seems likely that Papelbon’s greatest appeal will ultimately lie with a club that suffers an injury or wants a chance to add late-inning depth over the summer.

Here’s more from the National League:

  • With the Padres having taken on significant salary commitments and given up young talent to acquire Craig Kimbrel from the Braves, reactions to the move have been divided somewhat between front office and uniformed personnel, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney writes (Insider link). Atlanta has the backing of most executives, says Olney, while players and coaches have understandably focused on the impact that Kimbrel could have in San Diego.
  • The Padres received immediate trade interest in their bullpen after adding Kimbrel, as Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. “Within minutes, probably, of the (Kimbrel) deal, four or five teams have checked in,” said GM A.J. Preller. “So that’s part of making the deal. Hopefully, you add depth and it may help us in another area down the road.” Of course, that depth could be put to use either to fill in the pen or to shore up another area of need via trade.
  • The shortstop position is an obvious area to watch for the Cubs, but Olney says (in the above-linked piece) that it may not all be positive. Starlin Castro has proven he can hit, but Olney says there are real concerns about how committed he is to grinding things out on defense. Chicago informed other teams this winter that it was open to trade scenarios involving the 25-year-old.

East Notes: Papelbon, Warren, Victorino

Here’s the latest from the game’s eastern divisions to wrap up the day’s news:

  • Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos was notably on hand to watch Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon work early in his outing today against the Yankees, Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com reports. While Salisbury notes that it is impossible to know the reason for the visit, Toronto obviously has some questions at the back of its pen and has been mentioned as a plausible suitor for the veteran righty. Papelbon has looked strong this spring, as the report further notes, though his contract (and, in particular, its vesting clause for next year) remains the largest factor in his trade value.
  • Though the Yankees have yet to say so officially, Adam Warren appears ticketed for the team’s fifth starter role, as Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News reports. If he does indeed take that slot, the out-of-options Esmil Rogers will either need to lock up a pen slot or, perhaps, find another team.
  • Shane Victorino‘s recent comments about the possibility of the Red Sox dealing for Cole Hamels led to a bit of a dust-up in Boston, due in part to a seemingly strained interpretation suggesting that Victorino was advocating for the departure of phenom Mookie Betts. As Rob Bradford of WEEI.com reports, Victorino vehemently denies that reading of his words. Regardless, of course, as Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal explains, Boston’s front office understandably has little interest in shipping away its most prized young talent for expensive veterans.