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Josh Byrnes Rumors
Here’s the latest from the NL West.
- Rumors that the Dodgers are interested in Josh Byrnes for a front office role are gaining steam, writes Ken Gurnick of MLB.com. The former Diamondbacks and Padres GM was seen taking in an AFL game with Dodgers president Stan Kasten and special adviser Pat Corrales. Interestingly, Los Angeles has openings at GM and farm director – both positions that fit Byrnes’ resume. He began his front office career as a scout in the Indians organization, eventually moving up to scouting director before leaving with Dan O’Dowd for an assistant GM post in Colorado. If Byrnes does latch on with the Dodgers, it will be his fourth NL West organization.
- New Diamondbacks catching prospect Peter O’Brien is known for his power but comes with questions about his defense, reports Nick Piecoro of The Arizona Republic. When the Diamondbacks acquired O’Brien from the Yankees for Martin Prado, they knew he might not stick behind the dish. For what it’s worth, O’Brien says all the right things about his dedication to catching. Arizona farm director Mike Bell also sounds positive, saying “he just needs to catch more.” Including the AFL, O’Brien has blasted 37 home runs in 444 plate appearances across four levels this season.
- Giants swingman Yusmeiro Petit journeyed an unlikely road from the majors to Mexico and back again, reports the Associated Press in The New York Times. The right-hander reinvented himself in Mexico and Venezuela during the 2011 campaign. Ultimately, Giants hitting coach Hensley Meulens and minor league instructor Jose Alguacil rediscovered Petit and recommended him to the organization. The rest, as they say, is history. Petit has contributed to two critical postseason wins as part of an excellent October.
4:55pm: Friedman has spoken with Byrnes about the position, ESPNLosAngeles.com’s Mark Saxon reports. For his part, Friedman declined to address the matter.
As Saxon further notes, Friedman indicated that finding a new farm director to take over for De Jon Watson was the first priority. It remains to be seen, says Saxon, whether longtime scouting director Logan White will stay in place.
12:56pm: Former Padres GM Josh Byrnes is a “leading candidate” to land an executive role that would effectively make him second in command under new Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.
Heyman’s sources indicate that Byrnes’ experience is viewed as a plus by Dodgers ownership, and Byrnes’ philosophical view on the game is similar to that of Friedman. They’re also fairly close friends, according to Heyman, though little has been made of that connection in the past.
Former Nationals AGM Bryan Minniti and current Yankees AGM Billy Eppler have been previously considered as candidates but are now far less likely to get the job, Heyman hears.
With the Padres, Byrnes had his share of misses, particularly in terms of contract extensions. Multi-year pacts for Cameron Maybin, Cory Luebke, Nick Hundley, Carlos Quentin and Will Venable certainly haven’t gone as planned, and the first year of Jedd Gyorko‘s extension was a disappointment as well. On the other hand, Byrnes has pulled off several excellent pitching acquisitions. He acquired Tyson Ross from Oakland in exchange for Andy Parrino and Andrew Werner, and this past offseason the trade package he received for Logan Forsythe and Brad Boxberger included Jesse Hahn and Alex Torres. He also picked up Ian Kennedy from the D’Backs in exchange for Joe Thatcher, relief prospect Matt Stites and a Round B competitive balance draft pick.
Following the dismissal of GM Josh Byrnes over the weekend, the Padres are believed to be looking at external candidates, ESPN’s Jim Bowden reports (Insider subscription required). In fact, Bowden writes, Padres ownership is believed to prefer a first-time GM with vision. Ownership is looking for an up-and-coming executive from a successful organization. Bowden lists five candidates that he feels fit that bill and provides some background on why each would be a success as a GM. His list includes Rangers assistant GM Thad Levine, A’s assistant GM David Forst, Cubs VP of player development & amateur scouting Jason McLeod, Tigers assistant GM Al Avila, and Yankees director of amateur scouting Damon Oppenheimer.
After a tumultuous weekend in San Diego, here’s more on the Padres…
- Byrnes joined Mike Ferrin and Jim Duquette of MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM and discussed the end of his tenure (audio link). Asked if he was surprised, Byrnes replied, “Not really. I think there’s been an awful lot of change here as the new owners have come in and Mike Dee has come in. There’s going to be attention focused on baseball as there should be – we’re a baseball organization. …[T]here were higher expectations and, you know, we were not having a good season. …[W]hen you are an inherited GM and your team is not winning enough these things can happen.” Asked about reports of his deteriorating relationship with ownership, Byrnes said, “I probably don’t want to go there,” but suggested that he and ownership didn’t get on the same page regarding the team’s identity.
- Dave Cameron of Fangraphs looks at comments from CEO Mike Dee stating that the team hadn’t lived up to expectations and wonders where those expectations came from. Cameron looks back to the offseason and notes that few pundits and fans expected the Padres to be good this season. He opines that the Padres probably did need a change at the top, as they weren’t building for the future nor were they built to win right now, and that, not falling shy of misguided expectations, should have been the motivation for the change.
- Byrnes was only a small part of the Padres’ problem, writes Matt Calkins of the San Diego Union-Tribune. The Padres gave Byrnes the greenlight to spend more last offseason but their ~$90MM payroll put them at just 21st in the league. Much of the additional funds went to arbitration raises rather than external additions, Calkins notes, making the talk of increased payroll a bit misleading.
- Many Padres players were unhappy to hear of Byrnes’ firing, writes MLB.com’s Will Laws. “It’s sad to see Josh go,” said starting pitcher Andrew Cashner, who was acquired by Byrnes in a trade with the Cubs for Anthony Rizzo in January 2012. “He gave me an opportunity to start here and I’m grateful for that. But it’s out of my control.”
- Speaking of Cashner, the club announced today that he was placed on the 15-day disabled list with soreness in his right shoulder. Odrisamer Despaigne will take his place on the active roster, while Casey Kelly has been transferred to the 60-day DL to create room on the 40-man roster. Jeff Sanders of the San Diego Union-Tribune hears that the decision to place Cashner on the disabled list was more of a precaution than anything (Twitter link). Sanders adds that Cashner could pitch right now if needed, but given the state of the team, it made more sense to play it safe.
Zach Links contributed to this post.
It’s been a busy day in San Diego with the firing of GM Josh Byrnes. Here are a few notes on the Padres.
- Byrnes’ firing “begs for an explanation,” Jon Heyman of CBS Sports writes. Byrnes hadn’t been on the job long enough (less than three years) to follow through on a plan, and Heyman notes that the only winning team with a payroll lower than the Padres’ right now is the Athletics. The Padres’ new owners seem to believe that this year’s Friars should have been a top team, Heyman writes. Byrnes has a good record with trades, and while some of the extensions to which he’s signed younger players haven’t worked, he received praise for the Jedd Gyorko deal, in particular, when it happened.
- The Padres do not have any immediate plans to fire manager Bud Black or hitting coach Phil Plantier, Heyman tweets.
- The Padres made the right move in firing Byrnes, MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince argues. With the trade deadline fast approaching, the Padres needed to act quickly if they had questions about Byrnes. Castrovince says that the Padres’ new interim GM setup, with Omar Minaya, Fred Uhlman Jr. and A.J. Hinch occupying the position jointly, will be interesting, given that the trade deadline could help shape the Padres’ future.
- Karsten Whitson, an 11th-round pick in this year’s draft by the Red Sox, signed recently for $100K, losing out on $2MM after he reportedly rejected a $2.1MM offer when the Padres drafted him in 2010. But Whitson doesn’t regret his decision to attend the University of Florida, Fangraphs’ David Laurila reports. “My time at Florida was great,” Whitson says. “I went to the College World Series, won two SEC championships, and graduated [with a degree in psychology]. It was a very tough decision, but after doing some self reflection I though it was the right choice.” Whitson underwent a shoulder injury during his time at Florida that limited his bonus potential. He says he and the Padres (who were then run by Jed Hoyer, not Byrnes) did not discuss bonus parameters before they drafted him.
The Padres have fired Executive Vice President/General Manager Josh Byrnes, tweets Scott Miller of Bleacher Report/Turner Sports. The team has confirmed Byrnes has been relieved of his duties.
“This ownership group is committed to fielding a team that consistently competes for postseason play,” said Padres President and CEO Mike Dee in a statement. “Thus far this season, the results on the field have been mixed at best and clearly have not lived up to expectations. After a lengthy evaluation of every facet of our baseball operations, we have decided to make this change today. The search for a new General Manager begins immediately. We are looking for someone who can define, direct and lead this franchise’s baseball philosophy for years to come.“
The firing comes just two days after a report surfaced that Byrnes’ relationship with ownership had deteriorated. The Padres hope to have someone in place by later this season, sources tell Miller (on Twitter). Red Sox Assistant GM Mike Hazen has already been discussed as a possible replacement for Byrnes, tweets ESPNBoston.com’s Gordon Edes. USA Today’s Bob Nightengale tweets the Padres have also discussed a reunion with Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers. In a separate tweet, Nightengale notes Towers (Padres GM from 1995 to 2009) is under contract in Arizona through 2016 but his job security has come into question with the hiring of Tony LaRussa. Tom Krasovic of the San Diego Union-Tribune (subscription required) lists five potential candidates: Towers, Larry Beinfest (ex-Marlins GM), Farhan Zaidi (A’s assistant GM/director of baseball operations), David Forst (A’s assistant GM), and Jason McLeod (a former Padre executive and currently the Cubs’ senior vice president of player development and amateur scouting).
In the interim, Senior Vice President of Baseball Operations Omar Minaya and Assistant GMs A.J. Hinch and Fred Uhlman Jr. will assume Byrnes’ responsibilities in what the Padres call the “office of the general manager.” Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register tweets Minaya will be the point person for any trade talk. Miller reports manager Bud Black and his coaching staff are safe and is expected to remain so until a new general manager is hired (Twitter links).
The Padres have posted a 184-215 record since Byrnes was named general manager in October 2011 replacing Jed Hoyer. Per MLBTR’s Transaction Tracker, Byrnes’ two highest-profile transactions were acquiring Andrew Cashner from the Cubs for Anthony Rizzo and dealing Mat Latos to the Reds for a package of Yonder Alonso, Yasmani Grandal, Brad Boxberger, and Edinson Volquez. Byrnes has also handed out five contract extensions of three years or more during his tenure (Cameron Maybin, Nick Hundley – since traded to Baltimore – Cory Luebke, Carlos Quentin, and Jedd Gyorko), but was unable to hammer one out with third baseman Chase Headley.
GM Josh Byrnes’ relationship with the Padres’ ownership has “deteriorated,” FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal writes, and one scenario is that the team could fire Byrnes and replace him with fellow Padres exec A.J. Hinch on an interim basis. Tony Gwynn’s recent passing could prevent the Padres from making such a move immediately, but Rosenthal suggests that they’ll need to make a decision soon, with the trade deadline on the horizon. Chase Headley, Carlos Quentin (who could waive his no-trade clause), Ian Kennedy and Huston Street could all wind up on the trade market, and the team could also get plenty of talent if it traded Andrew Cashner.
Reports last week indicated that there could soon be a shakeup within the Padres organization, with hitting coach Phil Plantier and manager Bud Black possibly among the most vulnerable, though Rosenthal reports that it’s Byrnes whose situation is most uncertain. At 32-42, the Padres are in the midst of what could be their fourth straight losing season, despite a payroll increase last winter.
The brawl between the Padres and Dodgers last night left Zack Greinke sidelined for several weeks with a broken collarbone and put Carlos Quentin squarely in the media spotlight for charging the mound. CBS Sports' Jon Heyman and FOX Sports' Jon Paul Morosi both feel Major League Baseball should hand Quentin a significant penalty — Heyman suggests a 15-game suspension while Morosi opines that Quentin should be out for at least a month for seeking "vigilante justice" against Greinke. It may be a while before Quentin misses any action given that the outfielder is likely to appeal any suspension leveled against him by the league.
As the Padres kick off a series against the Rockies at Petco Park tonight, here are some more items out of sunny San Diego…
- Padres GM Josh Byrnes seems to have won the favor of the club's new ownership group, Tom Krasovic of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. New owners are often apt to bring in their own general managers though in the Padres' case, firing Byrnes would be costly given that he is under contract through the 2017 season.
- In his weekly chat with fans, Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune notes that Byrnes will likely "blow up the roster" (in the words of one fan) should the Padres fail to match last year's 76-86 record.
- Also from Center, Cameron Maybin has "no trade value" given his struggles at the plate and the roughly $22.8MM owed to him through the 2016 season. Maybin signed the five-year, $25MM extension prior to the 2012 campaign but hit just .243/.306/.349 last season and has just two hits in 27 AB to begin this season.
- From earlier today on MLBTR, the Padres signed first baseman Brandon Allen to a minor league contract.
MLBTR's Steve Adams also contributed to this post
Here's a look at some news out of the AL and NL West..
- The Dodgers are letting teams know that shortstop Dee Gordon is available, tweets Bob Nightengale of the USA Today. Gordon could represent a fallback option for teams who lose out on Stephen Drew. Earlier today, we learned five teams are in on Drew.
- The Giants are looking for a center fielder and are talking to Michael Bourn, Angel Pagan, and Shane Victorino, tweets CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman.
- The Angels are aren't acting like they're confident of landing Zack Greinke, writes Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times. The Angels seem to be trolling for much cheaper starting pitching options like Ryan Dempster and Shaun Marcum, as opposed to Anibal Sanchez and Kyle Lohse.
- The Dodgers' shopping list includes Greinke, a fourth outfielder that can play center, and a backup corner infielder, according to MLB.com's Ken Gurnick. Gurnick also says negotiations continue with lefty reliever Randy Choate.
- Padres GM Josh Byrnes doesn't expect to be very busy during the Winter Meetings, reports Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune. "I expect to do one thing, maybe two," said Byrnes. "I’m not expecting to do a lot. We’re filling the holes, not roster reshaping." The Padres are looking for starting pitching and have depth at the corner outfield slots, in the bullpen, and at middle infield. The names most often mentioned as possible trade chips, according to Center, are Luke Gregerson, Joe Thatcher, and Jesus Guzman.
- The Rangers are interested in talking with the Mets about R.A. Dickey at the Winter Meetings this week, a source tells T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com. The Rangers aren't alone in having interest in the knuckleballer as the Mets have taken calls from six or seven teams looking to swing a trade. The Mets are expected to look for outfield help and catching in a deal.
- The Rockies are considering a run at left-hander Daniel Schlereth as they look to improve their bullpen, according to Thomas Harding of MLB.com. The 26-year-old became a free agent this week when he was non-tendered by the Tigers.
- The Rockies are looking to restore their rotation, but not rebuild it entirely, writes Patrick Saunders of The Denver Post. The club will look to bolster their starting five with a veteran presence and they are known to have interest in free agent right-hander Kevin Correia.
Edward Creech contributed to this post.
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At this point in the offseason, when the free agent market features impact players capable of improving any club, it’s easy to forget that some teams can’t rely on free agency — especially not in early November, when asking prices are high and bargains have yet to emerge. Padres general manager Josh Byrnes is considering free agents, but at this point he ranks free agency third in importance behind trades and developing internally.
“Is it going to happen through trade or free agency or patience? Probably a little bit of all, but probably not as much in free agency as some people think,” Byrnes told MLBTR at the GM Meetings in Indian Wells.
Six of the Padres’ starting pitchers — Cory Luebke, Andrew Cashner, Anthony Bass, Casey Kelly, Joe Wieland and Robbie Erlin — recently dealt with injuries, which makes it difficult to project the 2013 rotation (Wieland and Luebke are recovering from Tommy John surgery). The Padres could look to obtain some certainty by supplementing their rotation with free agents. If they do pursue players on the open market, they might choose to do so relatively late in the offseason. Often team-friendly deals emerge in January or even February.
“That’s certainly recent history,” Byrnes said. “When I was in Arizona we signed guys like [Adam] LaRoche or [Jon] Garland late in the offseason. The early offseason is usually the heavyweights financially but we have to stay active and know what’s out there and, as I said, be patient and disciplined.”
Byrnes said the Padres will remain flexible in case the unexpected occurs and it becomes advantageous to change plans. For now it doesn’t sound as though those plans are oriented around the free agent market.
Ten years and one day ago today, the Marlins traded Matt Clement and Antonio Alfonseca to the Cubs for Julian Tavarez, Ryan Jorgensen, Jose Cueto, and Dontrelle Willis. Willis alone made the deal worthwhile for the Fish. Here's the latest from around the league…
- When Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein first called former Padres CEO Jeff Moorad for permission to speak to a member of his front office, he asked about assistant GM Josh Byrnes according to Dan Hayes of The North County Times. Epstein was instead allowed to speak to GM Jed Hoyer because "he was the GM of a last-place team," said Moorad.
- There has been some recent "back and forth" between the Giants and Matt Cain about a contract extension, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Cain did say that his upcoming free agency is "an exciting part of your career."
- Outfielder Mike Baxter, catcher Mike Nickeas, and lefty Danny Herrera are front-runners for roster spots with the Mets, writes ESPN New York's Adam Rubin. Baxter and Herrera are not on the team's 40-man roster.
- Yankees GM Brian Cashman declined to comment when asked about Joba Chamberlain's contract situation according to Marc Carig of The Star-Ledger (on Twitter). The right-hander suffered an open dislocation of his right ankle playing with his son last week and could miss the season.
- When the Blue Jays and Athletics discussed Gio Gonzalez this offseason, Oakland asked for 19-year-old right-hander Noah Syndergaard according to Jeff Blair of The Globe and Mail. Baseball America ranked Snydergaard as Toronto's seventh best prospect in December.