Jonathan Papelbon Rumors

Phillies Notes: Amaro, Papelbon

Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. still isn't sure whether his team will buy or sell at the trade deadline, Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com reports. "It’s an important time for everybody in Major League Baseball trying to figure out what they’re going to do," says Amaro. "We’re one of them." Amaro does say, however, that he has been exploring the trade market for outfielders and relievers, although one problem he's encountered while trying to trade for bullpen help is that teams are asking for big-league players in return. At 49-50, the Phillies are currently 6.5 games back in the NL East. Here's more on the Phillies.

  • The Phils need to stop using fans' identification with their current stars as an excuse not to look toward the future, argues FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal. Rosenthal stops short of saying that the Phillies should be sellers at the deadline, but points out that the Phillies are already overpaying for some veteran players, and have kept some past their sell-by date. Many of their best-known players (such as Carlos Ruiz, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Jonathan Papelbon) are about to enter or have entered their mid-30s, and are showing signs of decline.
  • Papelbon's enormous contract has made the Phillies' bullpen an unbalanced one, Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer argues. The $50MM the Phillies are spending on Papelbon forces them to skimp on the rest of their bullpen, and Gelb argues that the Phillies would have been better served to spend that money on four relievers, rather than on just one. Another reason Papelbon's contract is problematic, he says, is because long-term contracts for closers are a bad idea in general — he cites research from ESPN indicating that only three teams have the same closer in 2013 as they did just two seasons before.

Red Sox Notes: Rodriguez, Papelbon, Peavy, Ranaudo

With yesterday's unfortunate news on reliever Andrew Bailey and extension talks surrounding second bagger Dustin Pedroia, things are getting interesting in Boston as the trade deadline nears. Here's the latest:

  • Brewers reliever Francisco Rodriguez could make sense for the Red Sox, ESPN's Buster Olney opines on Twitter. When MLBTR's Tim Dierkes first listed preliminary relief trade candidates earlier in the year, Rodriguez had yet to appear for the Brewers after signing in mid-April. More recently, however, MLBTR's Steve Adams noted and explored Rodriguez's emergence on the trade market for righty pen pieces.
  • If he is even made available by the Phillies, former Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon shouldn't be considered by Boston, according to Bill Chuck of BaseballAnalytics.org. As Chuck explains, Papelbon's ERA and WHIP are masking significant declines in the velocity and effectiveness of Papelbon's fastball, making his $13MM annual salary over 2014-15 an unwise investment.
  • Boston is sending a scout to the White Sox game today, presumably to take a look at starter Jake Peavy, Olney reports via Twitter. As noted earlier today, Peavy will make his first outing since going on the DL this afternoon in an inter-league matchup against the Braves.
  • If the Sox do look to make a big splash on the trade market, pitcing prospect Anthony Ranaudo is one piece that it could consider moving, write WEEI.com's Alex Speier and Katie Morrison. While Ranaudo's value was down after being shut down last year, he has been overpowering (if inconsistent) at times this year in Double-A. The 23-year-old sports a 2.87 ERA with 9.1 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9. Given the organization's upper-level minor league starting pitching depth, say Speier and Morrison, Ranaudo is a candidate to be dealt.
  • Looking at the overall pitching needs of the Red Sox in light of the loss of Bailey and uncertainty surrounding injured starter Clay Buchholz, Speier says (in another piece) that the team's recent trade history shows that it is unlikely to act rashly. Of course, as Speier's breakdown shows, the failure to shore up the roster has left the team shorthanded at times over the post-season push.
  • Indeed, while the Red Sox may feel pressure to go out and find a replacement for Bailey, the team's management and ownership appear to be in unison in not wanting to mortgage the future to do so, writes Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com. While McAdam notes that the organization could feel pressure to make a post-season drive at all costs, he quotes a source as saying that ownership "trust[s]" and is "on the same page" with the baseball operations team. GM Ben Cherington said that he is determined to attack this season's trade deadline "in a way that makes us better but doesn't alter our long-term course."

Quick Hits: Shortstops, Indians, Hart, Papelbon

The All-Star Futures Game demonstrated how strong the future of the shortstop position can be, writes Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com. The World roster alone featured Xander Bogaerts of the Red Sox, Francisco Lindor of the Indians and Carlos Correa of the Astros, leaving the Cubs' Javier Baez out in the cold. (Addison Russell of the Athletics started for the U.S. team.) There has been a bit of a void at the position since the heyday of Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter and Nomar Garciaparra in the 1990s, Castrovince says. It's unclear whether the new group is good enough to yet again raise the bar for the position. "The more competition I have, the better it's going to make me," says Lindor. "I see Bogaerts got called up [to Triple-A], I see Correa's doing great, I see [Jurickson] Profar is in the big leagues, I see what Baez is doing, and I think that's awesome." Here are more notes from around baseball.

  • The Indians are 51-44 through the first half of the season, and their best path to improving at the trade deadline and staying near the top in the AL Central is improving their bullpen, Bud Shaw of the Plain Dealer writes. Upgrading their shaky rotation will be tricky, since they can't justify trading a top-notch prospect like Lindor, particularly not for a rental player. Upgrading their bullpen, rather than their rotation, would allow them to keep Lindor and pitching prospect Danny Salazar.
  • After having knee surgery, Corey Hart is now out for the season, and it's unclear what his future holds, reports Todd Rosiak of the Journal Sentinel. He's a free agent this offseason, and he'd like to stay with the Brewers. Due to the injury, it likely won't take a large financial commitment for Milwaukee to keep him. "I’ve talked to my agent. This is my home – I’ve been them almost half my life," says Hart. "I’d like to continue as long as they’ll let me. This might have been the silver lining to let me stay here – maybe a lower salary with incentives helps my case."
  • The Red Sox appear unlikely to pursue Jonathan Papelbon of the Phillies as the trade deadline approaches, Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe tweets. Abraham cites both Papelbon's recent performance and his salary. Papelbon has a 2.33 ERA, but his strikeout rate (8.0 K/9) has dipped substantially this year, and his velocity is down a bit as well. He's still an effective reliever overall, but there's little doubt that his contract, which will earn him $13MM per year through 2015 with a vesting option for 2016, is worrisome.


Phillies Notes: Lee, Papelbon, Utley, Ruiz

Phillies' right-hander Luis Garcia looked the part of a big league pitcher when he made his MLB debut on Wednesday, striking out Ryan Zimmerman and getting a double-play grounder from Adam LaRoche. However, prior to this season he'd been out of organized baseball for two years, working for a moving company and in a barbershop, Todd Zolecki and Stephen Pianovich of MLB.com write. After showing the Phillies a mid-90s fastball and a decent slider, the team assigned him to their high-A club, and he's now pitching out of a major league bullpen. Some more Friday night Phillies links…

  • Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. isn't expected to make drastic changes to his team as the trade deadline approaches, Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes. Though the Phils remain under .500, the team is playing well lately, having just taken five of seven from divison rivals Washington and Atlanta.  A model for the Phillies' approach to the trade market this year might be the 2007 club under GM Pat Gillick, which plugged holes by acquiring infielder Tad Iguchi and pitcher Kyle Lohse for two non-prospects. Gelb also discussed the market for Michael Young, highlighting the Red Sox, the Yankees, the Dodgers and the Orioles as potential trade partners.
  • Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com runs down possible trade pieces for the Phillies at the deadline. From conversations with people around baseball, it would seem that Lee is staying put while rival execs see at least a small chance of Jonathan Papelbon being traded. Opinions seem to be split 50/50 on Chase Utley, though there's a strong belief that Young is a goner if they're not in position to contend. Finally, execs could see the club trading catcher Carlos Ruiz if they remain on the cusp of the race or fall further.
  • The Phillies signed 11th-round pick Denton Keys to a $350K bonus (plus a $200K college scholarship) that will put them over their bonus pool and force them to pay a luxury tax, according to Baseball America's Jim Callis (Twitter links). Because Callis mentions no loss of future draft picks, it seems that the Phils exceeded their pool by 0-5 percent. Any further overage would result in a loss of their 2014 first-rounder. Keys, according to Callis, is a prep left-hander from Colorado whose fastball touches 91 mph. He was committed to Kansas.

East Links: Byrd, Phillies, Yanks, Young, Joba, Urrutia

Matt Warden of River Ave. Blues completed his 2013 series on potential Yankees' trade targets, highlighting the Rockies' Tyler Colvin, Peter Bourjos of the Angels, the Mariners' Kendrys Morales and Raul Ibanez, and Logan Morrison of the Marlins. Here's more out of baseball's Eastern divisions…

  • The Mets aren't likely to trade Marlon Byrd, writes Andy Martino of the New York Daily News. General manager Sandy Alderson will likely employ the same strategy he did with Scott Hairston last summer. However, one scout told Martino that he's not sure if the team's plan to stand pat is just posturing to drive up trade prices.
  • The Phillies would be buyers right now if it were July 31, general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. told reporters (including Todd Zolecki of MLB.com). Amaro said he doesn't feel he has a replacement for Jonathan Papelbon and needs his closer to contend. However, he also doesn't want to part with young talent, and Zolecki calls the Phillies' situation "fluid."
  • The Yankees and Red Sox at one point appeared to be one of the most serious contenders for the PhilliesMichael YoungGeorge A. King III of the New York Post writes. However, the Red Sox's main focus is now on bullpen help. Young isn't opposed to playing in the Bronx, according to King.
  • Within that same post, King notes that Howie Frieling, a special assignment scout for the Phillies, was in attendance to watch the Yankees against the Twins last week. The Phils also sent Sal Agostinelli, their director of international scouting, to watch the Yankees on Wednesday.
  • King adds that Joba Chamberlain's trade stock is falling, and the Phillies "have questions about what is perceived as the reliever’s immaturity," King says. In addition, one team that was previously interested in Chamberlain told King that they don't plan to make an offer for him because it's believed that the Yankees could eventually release him.
  • Marlon Byrd told Daniel Nelson of Mets Merized Online that he'd love to stay with the Mets but understands that he could be shipped to a contender at the deadline. "Sandy Alderson’s going to do anything possible to make this organization the best it can be," Byrd says.
  • Orioles prospect Henry Urrutia is "getting closer" to being an option, Buck Showalter told reporters, including Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun (Twitter link). Urrutia entered the season as the Orioles' No. 13 prospect, according to Baseball America, but has likely upped his stock with a big performance at Double-A and Triple-A. The Cuban defector is hitting .365/.429/.536 with seven homers in 280 minor league plate appearances this season.

Aaron Steen contributed to this post.


Phillies Notes: Papelbon, Tigers, Young

Here's a look at the latest out of Philly..

  • The Phillies have been spotted scouting the Tigers' system for a second time, but a deal involving Jonathan Papelbon is still considered unlikely, writes Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com.  Papelbon making $13MM a year through 2015 with a very attainable vesting option for 2016 and even though Tigers owner Mike Ilitch has never been shy about spending, word is that money will be more of an issue this time around.
  • Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports says that the move for the Phillies to make is not to trade Papelbon, but to add another reliever who is under control through at least 2014.  The Phillies are in the midst of a mini-surge and trading away their closer wouldn't make sense at this time.  However, adding another reliever would give them additional support if they make a run this season and a closer-in-waiting if they decide to move Papelbon further down the road.
  • ESPN's Buster Olney joined WEEI's Mut & Merloni earlier today and discussed the possibility of the Red Sox dealing for the Phillies' Michael Young.  Olney says that before Boston can think about trading for the former Ranger, they have to determine exactly how well they feel he can play the third base position.
  • Earlier today, we heard that the Phillies are focused on buying rather than selling.

Rosenthal On Garza, Rangers, Phillies, Brewers

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports has lots of great stuff in his latest edition of Full Count.  Here's a look at the highlights..

  • The Rangers' interest in Matt Garza is nothing new and two sources told Rosenthal that they nearly acquired Garza at last year's trade deadline with one source saying it was within minutes of happening and the other saying it was really close.  The problem was that Garza was dealing with a triceps issue and it turned out that he didn't pitch after July 21st.  The two sides were working on various contingencies right up until the last day but they eventually decided to just deal for Ryan Dempster instead.
  • Phillies GM Ruben Amaro is reluctant to trade players who could be part of the team's future, specifically Jonathan Papelbon, Chase Utley, Cliff Lee, and Cole Hamels.  When asked specifically about the idea of creating another closer if they part with Papelbon, Amaro noted that the only time they have done that was with Ryan Madson and it took four years for him to develop into a closer.  Amaro explained that he doesn't have that kind of time and none of their young pitchers are even remotely ready to close.
  • The Brewers' Yovani Gallardo and Kyle Lohse wouldn't figure to be in high demand, but their respective contracts make them attractive to contending clubs.  The upcoming free agent market will be thin in starters and guys like Garza, Josh Johnson, and Ricky Nolasco will want at least three or four years.  Gallardo and Lohse are under club control for two more years at below market salary – Lohse makes $11MM in 2014 and 2015 while Gallardo makes $11.25MM with a $13MM club option for 2015.  
  • The White Sox are a virtual lock to make deals before the deadline, but even then, their work might not be done.  Even if Paul Konerko and Jake Peavy do not show that they are fully healthy by July 31st, they could get moved during the August waiver period.  Both would figure to clear waivers and if Konerko wants to join a contender, he would waive his 10-and-5 rights and the White Sox would almost certainly try to accommodate him.

NL Notes: Davis, Dodgers, Gallardo, Relievers

Former Colorado Rockie Ryan Spilborghs has been blogging for The Denver Post about his experiences playing for the Seibu Lions in Japan this season, and he weighs in on the issue of PEDs in his latest post. While Spilborghs doesn't approve of PED use, he suggests that baseball's long season can push players too far without giving them enough time to recover. A better model may be the schedule adopted by Japan's NPB league, which has teams playing 144 games in about 180 days, Spilborghs says.

Some more notes from around the senior circuit…

  • Ike Davis will rejoin the Mets on Friday for their matchup with the Brewers, a source told Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com. Davis was demoted on June 10 after hitting just .161/.242/.258 in 207 plate appearances, but work with Triple-A coaches to address a hitch in Davis' swing was apparently successful, as the first baseman has compiled a .293/.424/.667 line with the Las Vegas 51s. MLBTR's Tim Dierkes speculated in a May post that Davis could be a non-tender candidate this offseason.
  • The Dodgers are expected to activate outfielder Carl Crawford from the DL as soon as Friday, reports Ken Gurnick of MLB.com. Los Angeles will soon be faced with a long-anticipated glut of regular outfielders, with Crawford joining Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, and sensation Yasiel Puig on the active roster. Manager Don Mattingly acknowledges that it will be a "sticky" situation to manage. It remains to be seen whether the Dodgers will consider moving Andre Ethier, who was given a five-year, $85MM extension just over a year ago.
  • While Yovani Gallardo of the Brewers has been the subject of trade dialogueAdam McCalvy of MLB.com reports that the righty is determined not to let the rumors affect him. "We all hear things. I'm not going to lie. … But basically I just leave it at that. I hear them, and then don't think about it too much." Gallardo did acknowledge, however, that he had become aware of some of the teams on his no-trade list.
  • Though the loss of Jesse Crain to the DL dampens the reliever market, a number of potentially available NL hurlers could help bolster a contender's bullpen, Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports notes. The Cubs' Kevin Gregg has earned 14 saves in 15 opportunities, while the Brewers' Francisco Rodriguez is a perfect seven for seven in save chances and could help the Tigers, Rosenthal says. John Axford, Milwaukee's former closer, could also be a useful piece. 
  • The Marlins could offer Steve CishekMike Dunn, or Ryan Webb, as they have power arms in the pipeline and "never mind trading relievers," according to Rosenthal. Both Cishek and Dunn have been effective for the Fish and become eligible for arbitration after this season. Miami could have a tougher time finding a taker for Webb, however, as he's shown discouraging strikeout and walk trends.
  • Rosenthal is also less high on the Phillies' Jonathan Papelbon, noting his high salary and declining strikeout rate, and the Brewers' Michael Gonzalez, a lefty who opponents have managed a .746 OPS against despite his high K/9 rate.

MLBTR's Jeff Todd contributed to this post.


Martino On Phillies, Papelbon, Nolasco, Dodgers

The first big move of trade season went down yesterday when the Orioles acquired starter Scott Feldman from the Cubs, along with catcher Steve Clevenger, for starting pitcher Jake Arrieta, reliever Pedro Strop and international bonus pool money.  The move will obviously have an impact on the O's, but more broadly, it means that we've entered the period when trade talk becomes more than just talk, writes Andy Martino of the New York Daily News.  Here's more from today's column..

  • Scouts that have spoken with Martino expect the Phillies to be active sellers, but hold onto Cliff Lee since they want to contend next year.  However, rival scouts and execs anticipate that, in addition to Michael Young and Chase UtleyJonathan Papelbon will be dealt or at least heavily shopped.  We've heard previously that the Phillies are expected to ask for an astronomical haul to part with Papelbon.
  • Papelbon also fits the bill as someone who could be kept for next year, but rivals that have spoken with Martino see too much of a need for bullpen help amongst contenders like the Red Sox and Tigers and they expect GM Ruben Amaro to get a strong offer for the closer.
  • One executive involved in the talks for the MarlinsRicky Nolasco predicts that he will land with the Dodgers, with the Giants a possibility and the Padres still somewhat interested.  Last night it was reported that the RangersRockies, and Dodgers are in "heavy pursuit" of the Miami hurler.  
  • A major league source told Martino that the Twins will likely shop Mike Pelfrey later this month, if he makes a strong few starts.  While the 29-year-old hasn't exactly been a world-beater this year – he has a 6.11 ERA with 4.8 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9 – he could perhaps get better as he moves further from last year's Tommy John surgery and appeal to a contender willing to throw starters against the wall like the Orioles.

Amaro On Taking On Salary In Trades

Based on comments Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. made to Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer, it appears the team would not be inclined to take on money in the unlikely event they trade expensive pitchers Cliff Lee or Jonathan Papelbon.  Asked about eating money to ensure the highest return in a trade, Amaro said:

"That's usually the case with most deals in this era.  In the cases of the players rumored out there, like the Lees and Papelbons, taking back money is not going to be an issue because the talent is too high. That's not going to be debilitating for anybody. The teams who would be interested would be willing to take on the dollars associated with it. Particularly in those deals – I don't anticipate doing those – but it's about making baseball deals, not monetary deals. I haven't been mandated to go and shed payroll. I've never had that mandate."

Lee will be owed over $70MM through 2015 at the trade deadline, while Papelbon will have over $30MM through 2015 remaining (more if his 2016 option vests).  Having dropped their last two contests, the Phillies sit at 9.5 games out in the NL East and eight back in the wild card.  As Gelb explains, the team can afford to wait until the end of the month.