Jonathan Papelbon Rumors
The latest column from ESPN's Jayson Stark is jam-packed with trade-related information. Highlights:
- One National League executive predicted that the Cubs' Matt Garza will be the first pitcher traded; he's thought to be eminently available, as the Cubs are not comfortable with his asking price on a potential new contract. The Padres and Dodgers are among the teams pursuing Garza, reported Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports earlier today.
- The Astros are looking for volume in any deal they make, one NL exec told Stark. Bud Norris is an obvious trade chip for Jeff Luhnow and company, while I imagine Carlos Pena, Jose Veras, Erik Bedard, Lucas Harrell, Wesley Wright, Ronny Cedeno, and others can be had as well.
- The Dodgers are not actively dangling right fielder Andre Ethier. What's more, the team still views itself as a buyer despite being eight games out. They may be interested in adding a third baseman they can control for multiple years, implies Stark.
- Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche could be dealt, hears Stark, in a scenario where Ryan Zimmerman moves to first base, Anthony Rendon moves back to third base, and Danny Espinosa gets healthy. LaRoche's name is not out there at present, however.
- The Brewers will "gladly listen" on third baseman Aramis Ramirez, as well as any position player other than Jean Segura, Carlos Gomez, and Ryan Braun. I wonder if that means names such as Jonathan Lucroy and Norichika Aoki will be in play next month.
- Execs who spoke to Stark seem divided on whether the Brewers want to trade Yovani Gallardo, with one saying, "To be honest, I think they would love to move him." Click here for thoughts from Brewers GM Doug Melvin on the situation.
- The Phillies are talking to the Red Sox and Tigers about closer Jonathan Papelbon right now, one exec tells Stark, even if they say otherwise.
- Officials of three teams that have talked to the Marlins about slugger Giancarlo Stanton are convinced owner Jeffrey Loria won't trade him this summer. In an April poll of over 13,000 MLBTR readers, over 40% thought Stanton would be dealt this summer.
- Other teams say the Tigers are willing to surrender top prospects Nick Castellanos or Avisail Garcia if necessary. The team is focused on finding a closer.
- The Braves are "all over the bullpen market," which jives with a couple of other reports today.
- The Giants "have taken on a whole new fervor in the last week in their hunt for another starter." They've been connected often to Nolasco, but there are around 20 viable candidates out there of varying quality. The Orioles could make a move before the All-Star break, hears Stark, and they seem to be prioritizing starters over relievers.
Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports runs down the names to watch as the trade deadline approaches in the latest edition of his 10 Degrees column, and the list is topped by Cliff Lee and Chase Utley. Giancarlo Stanton, Andre Ethier, Carl Crawford, Justin Morneau, Jesse Crain, Oliver Perez and Matt Garza also appear on the list, along with Passan's rationale for shopping each. Here's more from around the league...
- Jon Heyman of CBS Sports writes that the price to acquire Lee from the Phillies would be "astronomical," and the same goes for Jonathan Papelbon. General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. told Heyman, "I never say never," but those two would be very difficult to replace. Utley and Michael Young are much more likely trade candidates, opines Heyman, given their impending free agency.
- The Blue Jays' decision on what to do with Munenori Kawasaki following Jose Reyes' return from the disabled list grows more difficult each day, writes Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet. Kawasaki's popularity among fans and teammates has soared. Mark Buehrle went as far as calling the Japanese infielder one of his favorite teammates of all-time. Kawasaki also has a .341 OBP and is hitting .270/.372/.486 over his past 15 games.
- Both Adam Dunn and Jake Peavy recognize that roster changes are on the horizon for the White Sox if they can't turn things around at the last minute, writes Dan Hayes of CSN Chicago. Dunn added that outside of Chris Sale -- whom he said the White Sox would need to receive an entire MLB team to part with -- everyone on the team is probably "fair game."
- Mark Appel could make his pro debut for Class A Tri-City in the first week of July, according to Brian T. Smith of the Houston Chronicle. The current plan for Appel is for him to begin a throwing program in Kissimmee, Fla., as he currently hasn't thrown in about three weeks.
NIck Cafardo of the Boston Globe asked 30 people from around baseball who they would build their team around, regardless of age or experience. The leading vote-getter was Yadier Molina, with Buster Posey in second place. Here's more from today's column..
- There's a lot of uncertainty in the Twins' organization surrounding Justin Morneau. People wonder what happened to his power, which hurts his trade value. The Twins are a very loyal organization so they certainly won't give him away. If a deal for a prospect comes up, however, they would likely let him go.
- When closer Chris Perez is back in action he may be a piece the Indians would look to move. Despite his troubles, he would draw interest considering the shortage of available closers out there. “If a team can get him and he’s amped up because of a change of scenery, that’s all they’re looking for,” said one special assistant to an American League GM. “It’s all about getting bang for your buck during those two months-plus after you acquire him, if you don’t have to give up a lot of inventory to get him.”
- Speaking of closers, the Marlins' Steve Cishek is garnering attention and the Red Sox seem to have interest. However, clubs will have to consider whether he can handle the adjustment of going to a bigger market like Boston or Detroit.
- One National League GM believes that the Red Sox will have to give up on Daniel Bard at some point if things don't turn around. Because of his natural talent, a lot of teams would line up to trade for him in hopes that a change of scenery would turn him around.
- The Phillies declared last week that Jonathan Papelbon was not available, but Cafardo cautions not to believe it, especially in the wake of his public criticism of teammates.
- Nationals right-hander Drew Storen is an interesting alternative for a team looking for a closer. Storen was the Nationals’ closer two years ago but hasn't been as sharp in 2013 as he was in years past.
- Marlins right-hander Ricky Nolasco could be the first pitcher dealt as we near the deadline, even ahead of Bud Norris. Cafardo says not to be shocked if teams like the Orioles or Giants make a move on him sooner rather than later.
- One scout who saw Manny Ramirez in Taiwan said, “He can still hit with the best of them.” That doesn't mean that a team will be bold enough to sign him, however.
Phillies president David Montgomery showed support for GM Ruben Amaro Jr. on Wednesday, Bob Brookover of the Inquirer reports. "Ruben is not making independent decisions," Montgomery says. "He's going with a pretty good group of eyes who are looking out there at players and making determinations. God knows we're all trying to bat 1.000 on decision making. The reality is I think we do better than the .300 standard in baseball." The Phillies are 35-38 after going 81-81 last season. Here are more notes from the National League.
- The Phillies are among the teams that must rebuild, says ESPN's Jim Bowden (Insider-only). (Bowden also names the White Sox and the Brewers.) Bowden says the Phillies should try to trade veterans in order to reduce the payroll and add youth, but they shouldn't blow up the team completely, since the Phillies have a workable core. Trading Cliff Lee or Jonathan Papelbon would be the Phillies' best bet, Bowden says.
- Chris Carpenter, who is trying to come back from a nerve injury, will not factor in the Cardinals' trade deadline plans, GM John Mozeliak tells Derrick Gould and Brendan Meyer of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. " He hasn’t pitched yet. It’s still something that he could end up contributing, I think that’s a bonus. But I don’t think, going in to (July 31), (we will be) factoring him involved right now," says Mozeliak. Carpenter felt back tightness after throwing a bullpen session on Sunday.
- Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein says manager Dale Sveum isn't to blame for the team's poor record, ESPNChicago.com's Doug Padilla writes, citing an interview on ESPN 1000. The Cubs just don't have the talent to provide Sveum with good options right now, Epstein says. "I think Dale is taking a lot of heat for the fact that we don't have currently a roster that is talented enough to regularly win baseball games," says Epstein. "We just don't."
- Epstein also says the Cubs will not release Ian Stewart, Padilla notes. The Cubs suspended Stewart after he sent a series of tweets complaining that the club was unlikely to promote him. "He hasn't lived up to our expectations but he is a human being and his career is at stake," Epstein says. Stewart has hit .168/.286/.372 for Triple-A Iowa this season.
The Mets have generated most of the division's headlines today thanks to Zack Wheeler's official promotion to the Major Leagues, the signing of second-round draft pick Andrew Church and the news that the team plans to hold onto closer Bobby Parnell through the trade deadline. Here's the latest from elsewhere around the NL East...
- "There’s no indication the Tigers are pursuing Jonathan Papelbon," John Lowe of the Detroit Free Press writes. The Tigers, Cardinals and Red Sox were recently cited by the Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo as some of the teams the Phillies believed would form a market for Papelbon at the trade deadline given those clubs' lack of a proven closer. Detroit has the most pressing need for a closer and money has rarely been an object for the club in recent years, though the Tigers may instead pursue a less-expensive bullpen option than Papelbon.
- "I don't do five year plans -- other organizations do, I guess," Phillies GM Ruben Amaro told reporters (including David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News) today, though Amaro did describe how long-term planning plays a natural role in his decisions. Murphy opines that Amaro may need to take the long view as the team approaches the trade deadline given that past moves such as the Ryan Howard extension have backfired and left the Phillies a flawed, expensive probable non-contender.
- B.J. Upton is finally hitting (a .946 OPS in 53 June plate appearances) after a horrible first two months. David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution talks to the outfielder and several of his Braves teammates about those early-season struggles. Hitting coach Greg Walker noted that other recent major free agent hitters like Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton and Adam Dunn also struggled upon joining new teams on big contracts.
The Phillies have struggled to stay competitive this season and have been rumored to be a trade deadline seller for weeks, but GM Ruben Amaro Jr. doesn't plan on moving his most valuable pitching assets. Amaro told reporters (including ESPN's Jayson Stark) on Friday that he has "no desire to trade those guys. At all," referring to Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels and Jonathan Papelbon.
"My job is to try and put a contending team on the field every year, and we have a much better chance to be a contending team with both of those guys on the club," Amaro said. "If we have those guys at the top of our rotation, we're a better club. ... It starts and ends with pitching, as far as I'm concerned. So the more quality pitching you have, the better chance you have to build around that to win."
The general manager didn't draw the line at any midseason moves, noting that "We have plenty of people to trade" and that "four or five guys come off the payroll" after the season, which could give the Phils more flexibility. It could also seem to hint that four of Philadelphia's pending free agents (Roy Halladay, Carlos Ruiz, Chase Utley and Michael Young) could be trade bait in July, though Young is the only one of the quartet who isn't on the DL, and Halladay's and Ruiz's injuries have greatly diminished -- if not destroyed -- their trade value.
Amaro didn't rule out bringing any of those free agents back in 2014 but noted that moves would still be made with an eye towards contending next season rather than beginning a rebuilding process.
"Whether you're talking about retooling or rewrapping or taking a different direction, I think there are ways we can do that," Amaro said. "But when you start talking about blowing it up, you're basically saying you're going to start from scratch. And that's not happening."
Dealing Lee (owed at least $78MM through the 2015 season) or Papelbon (roughly $33.6MM owed through 2015 with a $13MM vesting option for 2016) would count as sign that the Phillies were taking a step back to reload, and dealing Hamels (who just signed a six-year, $144MM extension last July) would count as the first step towards a major rebuild. Lee said yesterday that he wanted to play for a contender and that while his preference was to do so in Philadelphia, winning was his top priority. Lee has a partial no-trade clause in his contract that allows him to block a deal to 20 teams each season.
In today's column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe wonders if George Brett is being groomed to be the Royals' next manager now that he has committed to being with the team every day as hitting coach. Dennis Gilbert, who represented Brett as an agent and who has fallen short in bids to purchase the Dodgers, Padres, and Rangers, would have installed Brett as manager had he landed one of those clubs. Brett could very well be Ned Yost’s eventual replacement if he boosts Kansas City's offense, but there’s also a lot of sentiment for Jim Fregosi, who has ties to GM Dayton Moore. Here's more from today's column..
- Cafardo spoke to a couple dozen executives, scouts, and players over the past few days about who the top player on the trade block will be and the consensus was Phillies left-hander Cliff Lee. The Red Sox, Orioles, Indians, Angels, and Rangers would really like to have Lee and there are many more clubs who could be in the mix, including the Dodgers and the Yankees, who say they can’t swing it but have the means to do it. One American League exec indicated there would be 20 teams lined up for Lee. Lee might be the last guy Ruben Amaro Jr. wants to trade, but he'd yield the greatest return.
- The Phillies have another interesting piece in Jonathan Papelbon and if they decide they are retooling, they probably don’t need a top closer. Several baseball people say the Tigers would be a tremendous fit for Papelbon since pairing him with that starting rotation would be rather formidable. He would also be an option for the Angels and Red Sox, but the Sox want to give Andrew Bailey every chance to do the job. The Indians would also be a possibility.
- It shouldn’t be long before a long list of teams start to inquire about free agent Grady Sizemore. Sizemore has begun baseball activities after being sidelined by knee surgeries and so far he’s had no setbacks. Cafardo suggests the Mets could be a fit as they are in need of outfield help.
- The White Sox, Blue Jays, and Twins might hold some of this year's top trade chips. “Alex Rios, Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, and you can add Justin Morneau, are definitely the major guys scouts are focusing on,” said one AL GM.
- After Red Sox outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury stole five bases Thursday night against the Phillies, it started to dawn on people — including some in the Philadelphia organization — that Ellsbury would be a nice piece in the Phillies’ lineup next season. However, he also hurt his groin during the game, and the injury question popped up.
Even though the Mets aren't contending, GM Sandy Alderson says they could be buyers at the trade deadline, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News reports. "It’s a possibility. It depends on what is available," says Alderson. "I have been involved in deals in the past whose first consideration was not the current season but the following season...The possibility of making an acquisition that has implications not just for the second half of this season? Yes." It sounds like we shouldn't expect the Mets to pursue rentals, but they might be open to a splashy acquisition of a veteran who is under team control through at least 2014. Martino notes that the Mets could look for outfielders in particular. Here are more notes from the East divisions.
- Lots of former Yankees and Mets are doing well with other teams, Joel Sherman of the New York Post notes. Sherman singles out former Yankees Russell Martin (Pirates), Nick Swisher (Indians) and Eric Chavez (Diamondbacks) in particular.
- The Red Sox are one of eight teams to which Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon can refuse a trade, Rob Bradford of WEEI.com reports. That Papelbon would have his old team on his no-trade list initially seems strange, but Bradford notes that it's not uncommon for a player to put a large-payroll team on his no-trade list, reasoning that he might be able to use his ability to nix a trade as leverage to negotiate an extension if a large-payroll team wants him. When asked, Papelbon said he could see himself playing for the Red Sox again.
The Red Sox bullpen was dealt another blow today with the news that Joel Hanrahan will undergo flexor tendon surgery and miss the rest of the season. Most pundits were in agreement that the Phillies overpaid when they signed Jonathan Papelbon to a four-year, $50MM contract following the 2011 season, but Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe writes that the Red Sox might end up being the ones paying the biggest price for Papelbon's departure given how the Sox have struggled to fill the void at closer over the last two years.
Here's a look at the latest out of the American League East..
- Right-hander Steve Delabar has become a key contributor out of the Blue Jays' bullpen since joining the team last July, MLB.com's Gregor Chisholm writes. Delabar has a 2.86 ERA and a 12.7 K/9 in 44 games as a Blue Jay.
- As he approaches a $13MM club option year, Red Sox southpaw Jon Lester is looking strong through one month and change, writes Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald. First-year pitching coach Juan Nieves helped make some adjustments to Lester's mechanics and the 29-year-old has a 2.73 ERA with 7.7 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 through eight starts this sesaon.
- Recent acquisition Alberto Gonzalez is nothing special, but the Yankees had to fortify their Triple-A affiliate's middle infield, writes Mike Axisa of River Ave. Blues. The Bombers acquired Gonzalez from the Cubs earlier this week in exchange for a player to be named later or cash.
- Steve Melewski of MASNsports.com makes the case that the Orioles' Manny Machado belongs in the conversation alongside Mike Trout and Bryce Harper as the best young player in baseball.
MLBTR's Mark Polishuk also contributed to this post
The Phillies have made multiple inquiries on the availability of Giancarlo Stanton over the past several months, Major League sources tell Jim Sailisbury of CSNPhilly.com, but have received the same answer as every other team in baseball: Stanton isn't available for the time being.
Salisbury notes that while the Phils lack a deep farm system, they do have plenty of near-MLB-ready arms such as Jesse Biddle, Jonathan Pettibone and Adam Morgan that could be used to headline a Stanton package. Of course, as Salisbury notes, if and when the Marlins decide to listen to offers on Stanton, they may not be keen on trading him within the division. That hasn't stopped the Phillies -- and reportedly the Mets -- from showing interest.
Salisbury writes that the very reason that the Phillies have such great need for Stanton's services could lead the team to be sellers come the trade deadline. Philadelphia outfielders are hitting just .215/.285/.330, which has contributed to their 13-16 record. Here are the highlights from his list of potential trade chips...
- Cliff Lee could become the prize of the July trade market should the Phillies sell. The Red Sox inquired on Lee before the Winter Meetings but were rebuffed. Given their first-place standing, they could look at Lee as a means to push them toward a World Series run.
- Jonathan Papelbon is another expensive piece that the Phils could move, and Salisbury wonders if the Tigers could be interested, given deep-pocketed owner Mike Illitch's desire to win a World Series. Detroit has had bullpen issues all season and recently re-signed Jose Valverde to reprise his role as closer. However, Salisbury reports that the Tigers are one of the team's in Papelbon's no-trade clause.
- Jimmy Rollins could be moved but would have to waive his full no-trade clause in order for that to happen.
- There's a sentiment that the Phillies would prefer to keep Chase Utley than deal him this summer if he remains healthy. Utley will gain 10-and-5 rights in August, Salisbury notes.
- Salisbury also mentions Carlos Ruiz, Roy Halladay, Ryan Howard and Delmon Young as players the Phillies would consider. Halladay's inconsistency and Howard's price tag would be prohibitive factors in any trade talks for that duo.