Jonathan Papelbon Rumors

Quick Hits: Astros, Papelbon, Happ, Betancourt

As we wind up one of the busiest weeks in the history of baseball transactions, here are a few more notes as we head into the weekend…

  • Astros GM Jeff Luhnow is happy to have acquired Dexter Fowler and Scott Feldman before the Winter Meetings, but Luhnow tells reporters (including Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle) that his club has more on its to-do list.  “To have them both done before the Winter Meetings is a bonus," Luhnow said.  "So now that we can focus on the bullpen and focus on potentially another position player somewhere….We may not be done with starting pitching either.  We’re still actively talking to some other folks.”
  • With the Phillies reportedly shopping closer Jonathan Papelbon, Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News feels the team will have a tough time given Papelbon's large salary, signs of decline and his possible attitude issues.
  • J.A. Happ could be a trade chip for the Blue Jays if the team needed to free up some payroll space, Sportsnet's Ben Nicholson-Smith writes.  Happ is set to earn $5.2MM in 2014 with a $6.7MM team option for 2015.  The southpaw was limited to 18 starts in 2013 due to head injuries suffered when he was hit in the head with a line drive, as well as a knee injury also stemming from the incident.
  • Also from Nicholson-Smith, nothing is imminent with Yuniesky Betancourt, though a number of teams are still interested in the veteran as infield depth.  The Marlins were linked to Betancourt last month.
  • Erisbel Barbaro Arruebarruena has a good glove at shortstop, is lacking at the plate and is overall not going to provide the impact of recent Cuban signings, a scout tells MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo.  "This isn’t like watching Aroldis Chapman or Yoenis Cespedes. You’re not going to hear from 15 teams. You’ll hear from teams that are hurting a little bit at shortstop," the scout said.  Arruebarruena will showcase his skills for teams this weekend, and the Mets have been identified as one of the attending clubs.

Phillies Notes: Howard, Amaro, Papelbon, Rollins

It's been a rough season for the Phillies, with injuries to many of their top players weighing down the team's record prior to the firing of longtime manager Charlie Manuel. We know they'll be looking for both bullpen help and catching help this offseason to try to right the ship, but here's the latest on the Phils in the meantime…

  • Interim manager Ryne Sandberg says that it would be "counterproductive" for Ryan Howard to return this season, writes Marc Narducci of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Sandberg told reporters that he doesn't feel playing 10-15 games when he's not at full health would do Howard much good, and instead he needs to focus on being as fit and healthy as he possibly can in 2014. Sandberg still believes that Howard can be a legitimate middle-of-the-order threat if he returns to full health.
  • Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly conducted a Q&A with general manager Ruben Amaro Jr., in which Amaro said that while the bullseye may be on him after Manuel's dismissal, he's not currently feeling any heat from ownership: "David Montgomery has been very supportive. David and the ownership group — I know they’re disappointed, but they’re supportive."
  • Amaro also said that Jonathan Papelbon's presence at the back of his bullpen is "crucial" to winning games, and he thinks Papelbon will be part of a Phillies contender in 2014. Amaro added that he's heard good feedback about Papelbon's work with the team's young relievers, though he did stop short of firmly calling Papelbon a positive clubhouse force when asked by Salisbury.
  • "You'd have to ask Jimmy," Amaro replied when Salisbury asked if shortstop Jimmy Rollins would benefit from a change of scenery. Rollins has a no-trade clause that he's not interested in waiving anyhow, but he's been questioned for lapses in hustle recently. Amaro didn't sound interested in the thought of trying to move Rollins, stating: "Jimmy is our shortstop. We signed him for a reason."
  • Amaro also told Salisbury that in addition to signing solid relievers, the team needs to do a better job of adding good depth pieces to the bullpen. As Amaro notes, Mike Adams and Antonio Bastardo had strong track records, but injuries to Adams and a suspension for Bastardo have exposed a lack of depth.

Phillies Notes: Manuel, Bullpen, Papelbon

Earlier today, the Phillies fired longtime manager Charlie Manuel and promoted third base coach and Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg to interim manager. Manuel has exactly 1,000 wins in his storied career and is beloved by the players he has guided. He led the Phillies to five straight division titles and captured a World Series championship in 2008. Here's more on Manuel and the rest of the Phils for some Friday reading…

  • ESPN's Jayson Stark breaks down the behind-the-scenes details that led up to Manuel's firing, though Stark notes that that Phillies went out of their way to not use the word "fired" despite the fact that Manuel himself said he didn't quit or resign as manager.
  • At today's press conference, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. revealed that the Phillies have asked Manuel to remain with the organization in a different role, but Manuel told reporters, including Jon Morosi of FOX Sports, that he needs to take some time away from the club to decide if he wants to remain with the Phils in a different capacity (Twitter link).
  • Former Phillie and current Nationals outfielder Jayson Werth spoke with Manuel earlier this season, and Manuel guaranteed that he would be managing somewhere in 2014, Werth told reporters (including Dan Kolko of MASNsports.com). Werth did note that time could impact that thinking. Werth also called Manuel the best manager he's ever had (via Mark Zuckerman of CSN Washington on Twitter).
  • In addition to catchers, the bullpen will be a prime area of focus this offseason, Amaro told MLB.com's Todd Zolecki. Amaro feels that the Phillies have been unfortunate to get some bad years from good relievers in recent years, pointing to Chad Qualls as an example of someone who excelled before and after his time with Philadelphia.
  • Asked by Zolecki about Jonathan Papelbon's contract, Amaro said he would make the signing again: "Oh, yeah, I think so," Amaro said. "The choices that we had out there with the people that were available, I'm happy with the decision. I'm not happy with the way we've played."
  • Scott Miller of CBS Sports questions the Phillies' lack of direction in light of the team's inactivity at the trade deadline and Amaro's inability to give a hard answer as to what the team was looking for in a permanent managerial replacement. The spotlight is now on Amaro, opines Miller, who notes that while Sandberg could help the club, its real problem is that is simply needs better players.


Stark On Phillies, Kemp, Rzepczynski

The latest from ESPN's Jayson Stark

  • Phillies third baseman Michael Young is open to a deal to just about any contender.  Stark sees the Yankees as the best fit, with the Orioles still interested.  Talking to MLB.com's Todd Zolecki about waiving his no-trade clause, Young said, "I don't know. The first thing I want to do is talk to the Phillies about that."
  • The Phillies have shown very little inclination to move catcher Carlos Ruiz, surprisingly.  And while they'd like to trade closer Jonathan Papelbon, their unwillingness to assume some of his contract is likely to prevent a deal.  Papelbon is owed at least $30MM through 2015.
  • The Phils have quietly been asking potentially interested teams about shortstop Jimmy Rollins, which would be a long shot even if Rollins wasn't likely to block a deal.
  • It's just speculation, but Stark says some people have wondered if the Dodgers should be open to trading center fielder Matt Kemp.
  • Cardinals lefty reliever Marc Rzepczynski is a candidate to be traded.
  • Stark suggests the Indians' Carlos Carrasco could be a name to file away for the Rockies, with the Tribe interested in Colorado reliever Josh Outman.

Bullpen Notes: Papelbon, Nathan, Tigers, Padres

Closer Jonathan Papelbon is dissatisfied with the Phillies' current direction, MLB.com's Todd Zalecki reports. In the midst of an eight-game losing streak, Philadelphia has fallen to seven games below .500, and that's not what Papelbon anticipated when he signed with the Phils. "I definitely didn't come here for this," he says. He also doesn't sound optimistic when asked about the Phillies' future. "Oh man," he says. "We could be here all day."

Papelbon is of the opinion that the Phillies need to undergo an overhaul, similar to that of his former team, the Red Sox (whose overhaul, ironically, included losing Papelbon to free agency). He says he does not want to be traded, but adds that he does not want to stay in Philadelphia if his team continues on the same path.


Stark’s Latest: Brewers, Ruggiano, Young, Storen

ESPN's Jayson Stark quotes a number of executives who feel the trade deadline has lost its luster since many teams have locked up their top young players, teams are reluctant to acquire rental players who carry no draft pick compensation as free agents, and the second wild card has narrowed the market of outright sellers to just a few teams.  That said, Stark still has lots of hot stove items for us in his latest Rumblings & Grumblings column

  • Ryan Braun's suspension could drastically change the Brewers' perspective on trading some veteran stars.  While Francisco Rodriguez was indeed traded just a day after Braun's suspension was announced, Stark hears that the Brewers are asking for a lot in deals.  "One of the problems with dealing with Milwaukee is that [their] trade for [Jean] Segura last year was so one-sided that they want another tilted deal. Not going to happen," an AL executive said.
  • The price for Kyle Lohse, for instance, involves the price of a first-round pick.  The Crew gave up as first-rounder as compensation for signing Lohse as a free agent in the spring.
  • Three scouts who have recently seen Yovani Gallardo say he's been pitching like a fourth or fifth starter.  Gallardo in his prime was "close to an ace. [But] lots of pitches on that arm from then to now. He can really pitch, but his stuff [has gone] way back," one scout said.  Gallardo has a 4.58 ERA and a career-worst 7.2 K/9 in 21 starts this season, plus he's lost two miles of velocity off his fastball.
  • We'd heard that the Yankees and Rangers had checked in on Marlins outfielder Justin Ruggiano, and Stark adds the Phillies and Giants to the list of a half-dozen interested teams.  The Marlins weren't too keen on dealing Ruggiano but he could be expendable now that Christian Yellich and Jake Marisnick have been called up.
  • The Phillies' next five games "will determine Michael Young's fate more than anyone else on their roster," said one executive who has talked to the club.  Young is seen as "pretty much a lock" to be dealt if the Phils struggle during their road trip through St. Louis and Detroit this week.  The Phillies dropped a 4-1 result to the Cardinals last night.
  • Jonathan Papelbon hasn't been made available by the Phillies but even if he was, one AL executive thinks Papelbon's contract makes him "practically untradable."
  • Stark thinks the Phillies and Marlins are good trade partners on paper since the Phils could use Ruggiano or any of Miami's good relievers.  The Marlins aren't willing to move anyone unless they get a great offer, however, and the Phillies aren't willing to move any of their top prospects to facilitate a deal.
  • The Nationals could listen on a good offer for Drew Storen, the former first-round pick who is struggling through a tough year.  The Nats are in a tough spot trade-wise, however, since the team is largely set at every position yet are still in need of hitting.
  • Alex Rios' long slump has lowered his trade value and the White Sox will be hard-pressed to find a team to meet their asking price for the right fielder.  The Rangers still have some interest in Rios, as they're looking for an outfielder that can be controlled beyond this season.
  • The Red Sox are seen as very likely to add pitching before the deadline.  Boston has been linked to Jake Peavy and were interested in Francisco Rodriguez before the Orioles got him. 
  • The Braves have targeted Oliver Perez and Charlie Furbush of the Mariners, Scott Downs of the Angels, Mike Dunn of the Marlins and James Russell of the Cubs in their search for left-handed relief pitching.  While Atlanta has been looking at these names and others, however, Stark says the team isn't close to a deal.
  • In regards to the Biogenesis scandal, Stark hears from an attorney who believes "virtually every case will be settled by a plea deal.  You're going to see a lot of pleas. You're going to see a lot of deals."

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.