Jonathan Papelbon Rumors

Stark On Yankees, Brown, Astros, Papelbon, Dodgers

ESPN’s Jayson Stark hosted a chat with readers today and touched on a number of hot stove topics with the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline roughly a month away. Here are some highlights, though the entire thing is worth a read-through for those interested in next month’s deadline…

  • Stark has received no indications that the Yankees are shopping for a third baseman. He hears that they’re prioritizing the rotation over everything else at this time.
  • Domonic Brown‘s trade value is dropping by the day, says Stark. Scouts have been watching Brown (and the Phillies in general) over the past couple of weeks, and Philadelphia is trying to bill Brown as “a guy who did it once before so he can do it again.” However, Stark has a hard time seeing Brown fetching anything more than another change-of-scenery candidate.
  • Jeff Luhnow and the Astros view most relievers as interchangeable parts, making it likely that they’ll be very willing to move names like Chad Qualls and Tony Sipp next month.
  • Right-hander Ken Giles has impressed so much that Stark expects the Phillies to ratchet up their efforts to trade Jonathan Papelbon, and with Papelbon pitching better than he has in years, this is the perfect time to do it, he opines. Giles has thrown just seven innings for the Phils, but he’s averaged 97.1 mph on his heater with a 12-to-3 K/BB ratio and a ground-ball rate north of 55 percent.
  • The Dodgers have been telling teams that they won’t move Joc Pederson or Corey Seager this summer, according to Stark. If that’s indeed the case, that should take them out of the running for David Price (in my opinion).
  • Stark doesn’t get the sense that the Tigers are shopping for a closer, which meshes with yesterday’s comments from GM Dave Dombrowski. Detroit doesn’t think Joe Nathan is finished yet.

NL Notes: Samardzija, Arroyo, Phillies, Marlins

The latest trade deadline news and rumors out of the National League …

  • Even as the team explores the possibility of an extension, the Cubs are still indicating to other clubs that top starter Jeff Samardzija is available, reports Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times. As Wittenmyer notes, Chicago engaged in “lukewarm final talks” with Matt Garza last year prior to dealing him away.
  • We heard last night that the Blue Jays were keeping a close eye on Samardzija. Further reports indicate that, unsurprisingly, they were not alone in watching his start last night. The Giants took a look, according to a tweet from Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle, as did the Royals, per Jon Morosi of FOX Sports (via Twitter). Also present, albeit with unknown targets in their sights, were scouts for the AngelsIndians, and Reds, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter link).
  • Diamondbacks starter Bronson Arroyo has a sprained UCL and is now on the DL for the first time in his career, reports Steve Gilbert of MLB.com (Twitter links). Though the current plan is for Arroyo to rest for about ten days, the injury certainly throws some uncertainty into his potential status as a trade candidate this summer. Arroyo’s calling cards, of course, are his remarkable durability and consistency. The injury suggests a potentially increased risk for a pitcher who is 37 years old, has 3,469 2/3 professional innings on his right arm, and is owed not only the rest of a $9.5MM salary for this year but also $14MM in future guarantees.
  • Phillies president David Montgomery says that he is confident in GM Ruben Amaro Jr. and his staff, reports Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer“I just believe that group of people gave us the successful period we had,” Montgomery said. “They had different roles in it. I know people focus on Ruben’s role having changed vis-a-vis 2009 vs. 2008. … [Y]ou have to look at the whole body of work. Have we been served well? My answer to that is yes.” Regarding the team’s operating strategy, he said that it will continue to “pay attention to both today and tomorrow, and to do what’s right in both cases.”
  • While it remains unclear whether the Phillies would be willing to deal either or both of their veteran middle infielders (Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins), or if the players would in turn be amenable to waiving their no-trade protection, it is also worth considering what kind of value they might bring back. “I don’t know if some of those guys will get you enough in return to warrant making the trade,” an American League executive told the Inquirer’s Bob Brookover. The unnamed exec did indicate that some teams may be willing to look past the negative clubhouse reputation of closer Jonathan Papelbon, whose strong performance to date could make it possible for the Phils to offload him and save some future cash.
  • The Marlins are open to dealing for rotation help, but will first explore internal solutions, reports Joe Frisaro of MLB.com. Miami just promoted youngsters Andrew Heaney and Anthony DeSclafani. If the club does ultimately consider dealing away close-to-the-bigs talent in exchange for an established starter, Frisaro says that it would likely aim for a player that it can control beyond the season. He floats the possibility that the Fish could dangle infield prospect Derek Dietrich, who offers intriguing left-handed power.

Cafardo On Lee, Papelbon, Giants, Hammel, Black

In his Sunday Baseball Notes column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reminisces about a pitchers’ duel between the Red Sox’s Luis Tiant and the Angels’ Nolan Ryan 40 years ago, the likes of which we may never see again in today’s game. Tiant threw 195 pitches and was still on the hill when the Angels scored the game-winner with one out in the bottom of the 15th inning. Ryan, meanwhile, tossed 235 pitches in a meager 13 innings of work. “When you took the baseball, you wanted to finish what you started,” Tiant told Cafardo. “I didn’t even feel tired. I could have gone as long as I had to go. They beat me on a ground ball that went through the second baseman’s legs. It was the 15th inning and I was OK.” The last pitcher to pitch more than nine innings in a MLB game was Cliff Lee, who lasted ten innings in April 2012.

Here’s more from Cafardo’s column:

  • Speaking of Lee, the Phillies left-hander will likely have to be a post-waiver deadline deal since he won’t have enough time between now and July 31st to rehab his strained elbow. Lee should be able to clear waivers because he has two years left on his deal at $25MM each.
  • Jonathan Papelbon is pitching a lot better and there’s an expectation he could be one of the first Phillies to go once they decide to sell. One AL scout who has watched Papelbon’s outings said, “I’ll give him credit. I think he’s learning to pitch with what he’s got left. He’s not 96-98 [miles per hour], but he’s getting back up to 92-93 and making a lot of good adjustments.” Cafardo wonders if he could be a future member of the Tigers or Orioles.
  • When Marco Scutaro returns from his back injury, he will likely become the Giants‘ utilityman and GM Brian Sabean is trying to add a second baseman by the trading deadline. Chase Utley would be a great fit, but Cafardo wonders if the Phillies will actually deal him, whether the veteran would waive his ten-and-five rights, and whether the Giants would give up the necessary bounty to acquire him.  Ultimately, SF could set its sights lower.
  • Cubs right-hander Jason Hammel is having a good season, but the scouting community is mixed on what impact he’d have on a contending team.  Some question whether he can keep up this pace or whether he’ll be more of a back-of-the-rotation starter. Even positive comments Cafardo has heard have been tagged with the caveat you wouldn’t give up the farm for him.
  • Despite the harsh assessment of the Padres‘ season by club CEO Mike Dee recently, Cafardo finds it hard to imagine Bud Black losing his job and opines firing him would be a mistake because he is seen as one of the game’s best managers in the eyes of a lot of baseball executives.

Edward Creech contributed to this post.



Quick Hits: Free Agents, Scherzer, Papelbon, Mulder

With Nelson Cruz, Stephen Drew, Ubaldo Jimenez, Kendrys Morales and Ervin Santana all in seeming free agent limbo after rejecting qualifying offers, Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan argues that the current free agent compensation system has proven to be too limiting.  While teams will give up draft picks to sign bigger stars like Robinson Cano, the so-called second tier of free agents are finding it much harder to get work.  "Last offseason, there were a number of guys affected in ways different than we expected compared to a freer market to pursue jobs.  It appears that's happening again, " MLBPA executive director Tony Clark said.  One club executive suggested to Passan that teams could make qualifying offers to more free agents next winter given the evidence about how it pushes prices down for some players.

Here's some more from around baseball…

  • The Tigers have recently made several important moves in the post-Christmas offseason period, and 2014's big early-year move could be laying the groundwork for a Max Scherzer extension, MLB.com's Jason Beck opines.  Beck thinks GM Dave Dombrowski will look to a one-year deal for 2014 to avoid going to arbitration with Scherzer, and those talks could lead to negotiations with agent Scott Boras over a longer-term extension.
  • Also from Beck, he wonders if the Tigers could discuss a new contract with Miguel Cabrera (signed through 2015) or possibly add another reliever to the bullpen.  Detroit has already addressed its main bullpen need by signing closer Joe Nathan, and also acquired Ian Krol and Joba Chamberlain for the relief corps.
  • Jonathan Papelbon discussed his name surfacing in recent trade rumors, the differences between the Phillies' and Red Sox clubhouse atmospheres and his joy at seeing his ex-Boston teammates win the World Series last October in a frank radio interview with Rob Bradford and John McDonald on WEEI's Hot Stove Show.  A partial transcript of the interview is available at WEEI.com.
  • The Phillies were interested in Mark Mulder before the veteran signed with the Angels, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reports (Twitter link).
  • Forbes Magazine's Maury Brown discusses Major League Baseball's growing revenues and the effect on player salaries and acquisitions in a podcast with BostInno's Alex Reimer, who has a partial transcript of the interview here.
  • MLB.com's Anthony DiComo covers a number of Mets-related topics as part of a reader mailbag, including how he doesn't see Dee Gordon or Didi Gregorius as logical trade targets for the team.

Quick Hits: Downs, Nationals, Papelbon, Reynolds

Last month, reliever Darin Downs found out the Astros had claimed him off waivers from the Tigers as he was driving his wife to deliver the couple's second child, Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle reports. "I had a couple missed calls, a couple text messages. So I call one of the front office staff from the Tigers, he says, 'Oh, you've just been claimed by the Astros.' I'm like, 'All right, cool. I'm going to the hospital,'" Downs says. Here are more notes from around the big leagues.

  • A year removed from their nightmarish 2012 season, the Red Sox are again a desirable team for free agents, Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald writes. Some of that, Lauber notes, has to do with the team's willingness to spend money. The team also seems to have rehabilitated its reputation among players after reports of 2012 locker-room disarray. But another important consideration is simply that every season is different. "I always chuckle inside when you see the quote from a free agent, 'I want to go to a contender,'" says Jonny Gomes. "Oh, you mean the Tampa Bay Rays in 2008? Or the Oakland A’s in 2012? That contender? I know anything can happen. Every single year, good, bad and in between, is like an individual season. All you have to do is turn the page."
  • Reliever Jim Hoey is trying to return to the big leagues, MLBTR's Tim Dierkes tweets. Hoey, who will be 31 next week, last appeared in the Majors in 2011, when he pitched in the Twins' bullpen. He is perhaps best known for being traded (with minor-leaguer Brett Jacobson) for J.J. Hardy and Brendan Harris in 2010. He pitched briefly in the Brewers' system in 2013, and also pitched in independent ball.
  • The Nationals have a variety of extension candidates and may not have an easy time deciding how to handle them, writes Pete Kerzel of MASNsports.com. Pitcher Jordan Zimmermann and shortstop Ian Desmond are both open to extensions, Kerzel notes, but GM Mike Rizzo also needs to think about whether to extend Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg long-term (if that's practical — Scott Boras represents both of them, and one would think his demands would be through the roof). An extension for Zimmermann could exceed Matt Harrison's five-year, $55MM deal, possibly winding up somewhere near $85MM, Kerzel suggests. Both Zimmermann and Desmond can become eligible for free agency after the 2015 season.
  • The decline in Jonathan Papelbon's stuff last season could make other teams reluctant to trade for him, and Jason Collette of Fangraphs shows exactly what went wrong. Papelbon's velocity dropped as the season progressed, which allowed batters to make more frequent contact with his fastball. Hitters also made more contact with his splitter when he left it in the zone. While Papelbon's superficial statistics (a 2.92 ERA and 29 saves) were reasonable, his peripheral numbers mark him as something like an average closer at this point. Since he's making $13MM a year, that's a problem, and it could be tricky for the Phillies to deal him.
  • The Yankees have had talks with Mark Reynolds about a deal to return next season, but the corner infielder appears set to sign somewhere else, Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News reports. Reynolds, 30, joined the Yankees in August after being released by the Indians, and hit .236/.300/.455 in 120 plate appearances, with characteristically high strikeout totals.

Cafardo On Papelbon, Youkilis, Overbay, Drew

In today's Boston Globe, Nick Cafardo makes the case for Braves pitcher Tom Glavine to earn induction into the Hall of Fame.  For his part, Glavine said he would be thrilled to go in with Greg Maddux and Bobby Cox. “Bobby Cox had the biggest influence in my career and probably the second- or third-biggest influence in my life,” Glavine said. “Greg was a dear friend, and just being around him made me better. I learned so much. We talked so much about pitching and situations, and hitters. I couldn’t have asked for a better teammate and influence on my career. To have three of us together like that would be incredible, and Smoltzy next year.”  More from today's column..

  • One of the reasons the Phillies haven’t been able to find a buyer for Jonathan Papelbon is his drop in velocity.  Papelbon, who was regularly 95-96 in his Red Sox days, fell to 91-92 and sometimes less last season. “That was a red flag for me,” said an AL scout. “He didn’t look like the same guy. Whether that was physical or he just didn’t have the adrenaline flowing with a bad team, I don’t know.”
  • Kevin Youkilis' one-year deal could be worth up to $5MM and is apparently more than he could have received anywhere in MLB.  The Yankees had some interest, but at a lower price. The Indians, Giants, and Rays also had interest at one time. Back problems limited Youkilis to 28 games last season with the Yankees, and he simply couldn’t convince the masses he was healthy. 
  • Lyle Overbay's market is lukewarm right now and he'll likely be a January tack-on for someone. Cafardo predicts he'll wind up as a backup or a low-cost option for a team such as the Orioles or Indians.
  • The Mets and agent Scott Boras have discussed parameters but no firm numbers for Stephen Drew and right now, it looks like GM Sandy Alderson is sticking with Ruben Tejada. There’s always the Yankees, but Drew has never played anywhere but shortstop and Derek Jeter doesn’t appear to be moving to another position.  The road, for now, is still leading back to the Red Sox.
  • Agent Scott Boras scoffs at the notion that the market for Kendrys Morales has dried up due to the draft pick compensation issue.  Cafardo says that at some point a team such as the Orioles may give it up to have a superb hitter in the middle of their order and cautions to never underestimate Boras.  
  • Mark Mulder is looking for a minor league deal with incentives if he makes the major league club. He's worked out for the Giants, Padres, Diamondbacks, Angels, and Phillies over two sessions and the second session he improved his velocity from 88 to 92 mph.  The Red Sox have inquired on Mulder, who hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2008, but probably won’t pursue him.  Back in late November, Giants GM Brian Sabean indicated that he wouldn't be in on Mulder since he's seeking a big league deal.
  • Even with the Yankees' declaration that Brett Gardner won’t be traded, they would listen to the right deal.
  • It's a big surprise that agent Scott Boras couldn’t get Tigers owner Mike Ilitch to outbid the Rangers for Shin-Soo Choo since they have a need for a leadoff hitter. The Tigers are apparently continuing to commit to Austin Jackson at the top of the order and hope his game smooths out.
  • The Rays and Cubs want at least three very good players for David Price and Jeff Samardzija, respectively, whether they're major league-ready or top prospects. 

Quick Hits: Castro, Cubs, Balfour, Phillies, Yankees

Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro is fighting to prevent millions of dollars from being seized from his bank accounts, Juan Perez Jr. and Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune report. When Castro was 16, his father allegedly signed a contract promising three percent of Castro's big-league earnings to a baseball academy in the Dominican. When Castro signed his $60MM contract in 2012, the academy claimed Castro owed it $1.8MM. Dominican law states that twice that figure be frozen until the matter is resolved, so Dominican authorities have frozen $3.6MM. Castro's lawyers, meanwhile, are fighting for that $3.6MM to be unfrozen, and they're also asking for $5MM in damages. They claim that the academy did not have the right to percentage of Castro's extension. Castro was just 16 when the agreement was with the academy was reached, and he signed the big contract with the Cubs after he turned 18. Castro's father didn't have the right to sign away his earnings past age 18, Castro's attorneys argue. Here are more notes from around the big leagues.

  • There were high expectations for Theo Epstein when he became president of the Cubs, and Andy MacPhail faced similar expectations two decades ago, CSNChicago.com's Patrick Mooney reports. MacPhail served as president and CEO of the Cubs from 1994 through 2006. Like Epstein, he preceded his tenure in Chicago by winning two World Series titles as a general manager (with the Twins). Like Epstein, MacPhail planned the Cubs' resurgence around young talent, although it didn't work perfectly in MacPhail's case, partly because of the Cubs' struggles to keep pitchers like Kerry Wood and Mark Prior healthy. "We weren’t the luckiest birds in the world, health-wise, with our starting pitchers. But most people forget – I think we had a better won-loss record in ’04 (89-73) than we did ’03 (88-74). So we were kind of building towards it," MacPhail says.
  • Grant Balfour says he told Orioles executive Dan Duquette what he thinks about the O's backing out of his two-year deal with them, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports. "I called Dan Duquette and told him, 'I’ve played in this league for 10 years, I deserve to be treated with respect and you did not treat me with respect.'" Balfour says. "'Two well respected physicians said I am completely healthy – because I am healthy. I’m a fighter and a winner and I would have given you your best chance to win.'"
  • Jonathan Papelbon and Ruben Amaro Jr. "deserve each other," the Inquirer's Matt Gelb writes. Papelbon has been "surly" about his tenure with the Phillies, and Amaro has been defiant about the Phillies' outlook. The Phillies are trying to trade Papelbon, but they may be stuck, not only because of Papelbon's declining velocity and peripherals, but also because general managers aren't as keen as they once were on spending tens of millions of dollars on closers.
  • The Yankees' additions of switch-hitters Carlos Beltran and Brian Roberts should help balance their lineup, reports Joel Sherman of the New York Post. "We were too left-handed last year and [because of injury, in particular] too easy to navigate through at times," says manager Joe Girardi. "I think the switch-hitters make it tougher for the opposing manager." Beltran himself actually hit far better from the left side (.315/.362/.509) than the right side (.252/.281/.448) in 2013, although he's hit only slightly better as a lefty than as a righty for his career.

Latest On Orioles’ Closer Situation

Here's the latest on the Orioles' pursuit of a closer courtesy of a series of tweets from MASNsports.com's Roch Kubatko. The Orioles are upset at the idea that they "backed out" of their agreement with Grant Balfour, as they don't have another closer in waiting. They heeded their doctors' recommendations after Balfour's physical, and now would not be comfortable signing him for more than a year plus an option.

With a deal with Balfour now unlikely, the Orioles could pursue Fernando Rodney, or just give their closer's job to one of their current pitchers. Free agent Chris Perez does not seem to be a possibility. The Orioles have discussed the possibility of a Jonathan Papelbon trade with the Phillies, but Papelbon's contract is an obstacle. The Phillies owe Papelbon $13MM in both 2014 and 2015, and he also has a $13MM vesting option for 2016.


Phillies Shopping Jonathan Papelbon

WEDNESDAY: The Phillies are "selling the crap out of [Papelbon]," one executive told Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly. The Phillies are willing to pay some of Papelbon's salary to facilitate a trade, according to Salisbury. One source told Salisbury that the Phillies approached the Indians and offered to pay part of Papelbon's salary, but the Indians weren't interested.

SUNDAY: Jon Heyman of CBS Sports also hears that the Phils are shopping Papelbon, adding that there's a belief that the Phils would like to reallocate Papelbon's salary to a starting pitcher (Twitter link).

FRIDAY, 6:45pm: The Red Sox are one of the teams on Papelbon's no-trade list, WEEI.com's Rob Bradford reports (Twitter link).  With Koji Uehara closing and the likes of Junichi Tazawa and the newly-acquired Edward Mujica as bullpen depth, it's very unlikely the Sox would've had interest in bringing Papelbon back anyway.

2:47pm: The Phillies are trying to trade Jonathan Papelbon, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter). The Phillies could move the right-hander, who is set to earn $13MM in each of the next two seasons, and look to sign a more affordable closer, Rosenthal adds in a second tweet. Papelbon's deal also has a $13MM vesting option for the 2016 season that triggers if he finishes 55 games in 2015 or 100 games between 2014-15. Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly adds (via Rosenthal) that Papelbon's no-trade protection allows him to select 12 teams to which he will approve a deal.

Papelbon, 33, saved 29 games and posted a 2.92 ERA with 8.3 K/9 and 1.6 BB/9 in 61 2/3 innings for the Phillies in 2013 — the second season of a four-year, $50MM deal. Though his superficial numbers appear strong, Papelbon's average fastball velocity dropped to a career-low 92 mph, and his 10.6 percent swinging-strike rate was also the lowest of his career.

Papelbon's name surfaced in trade rumors over the summer, as he was believed by some to be available with the Phillies looking to shed payroll and get younger. Papelbon made some incendiary remarks about the direction of the Phillies in July, flatly stating, "I definitely didn't come here for this." Asked about the contract in retrospect, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. said in August that he would make the signing again and had no regrets other than they way the team has played as a whole. In an interview later that month, Amaro called Papelbon "crucial" to the Phillies' success and said he expected to see Papelbon closing out games for the Phils in 2014.

It's a tough time to be shopping an expensive closer, as the market bears plenty of options in the form of Grant Balfour, Joaquin Benoit, Fernando Rodney, Chris Perez, Jose Veras and John Axford. Amaro could likely increase interest if he were to show a willingness to sweeten the pot by eating some of Papelbon's salary. Otherwise, Papelbon is a tough sell at two years and $26MM in a market where Joe Nathan commanded just a two-year, $20MM contract.


Relief Rumors: Lefties, Axford, Papelbon, Benoit, Guerrier, Rays

Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports reports (via Twitter) that the top left-handed relievers on the market — J.P. Howell, Boone Logan, Eric O'Flaherty and Scott Downs — should begin to start coming off the board in the next 24 to 48 hours. It's already been reported that O'Flaherty is in talks with the Braves about a return to Atlanta. Here's the latest on the market for relievers…

  • Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post tweets that there's a sense that the Nationals will land a left-handed reliever today.
  • The Orioles have had talks with John Axford, tweets Morosi. They're also said to be the current favorites for Grant Balfour.
  • A rival executive estimated that the Phillies would have to eat about 40 to 50 percent of Jonathan Papelbon's remaining salary to trade him, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Papelbon is owed $13MM in each of the next two seasons and has a vesting option for a fifth year.
  • The Rockies have had discussions with Joaquin Benoit but are a ways apart in terms of salary, Morosi reports. Talks between the two sides are fading, as Benoit appears likely to seek a more lucrative deal elsewhere (Twitter links).
  • Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer tweeted yesterday that when the dust settles from the Winter Meetings, Matt Guerrier's name could be a of interest to the Indians.
  • Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that even after re-signing Juan Carlos Oviedo and acquiring Heath Bell, the Rays are still looking to improve their bullpen. One option could be injured lefty Jordan Norberto, who underwent Tommy John surgery last season.