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The latest installment of Jon Heyman’s weekly Inside Baseball column is up over at CBS Sports, and Heyman begins by addressing the Troy Tulowitzki trade talk that has once again surfaced. Heyman, like many others, feels the time has arrived for the marriage between Tulo and the Rockies to come to an end, but neither Tulowitzki or owner Dick Monfort wants to appear to be the “bad guy” in the situation. Heyman hears that Tulowitzki would prefer to play for the Yankees, Giants, Dodgers or Angels if he is traded, though one person who knows the shortstop well told Heyman that he may ok with the Mets, Cardinals and Red Sox as well. Tulowitzki’s preferred destination is largely a moot point though, as his contract doesn’t have a no-trade clause. Heyman notes that in a year’s time, Tulowitzki will receive 10-and-5 rights, allowing him to veto any deal. That reality only furthers Colorado’s need to move Tulowitzki, Heyman opines. Heyman also lists 11 clubs that he could see making some degree of sense for the face of the Rockies’ franchise.
Some more highlights from a lengthy but always-informative column…
- The Cubs “may consider” Rafael Soriano at some point as a means of lengthening their bullpen, according to Heyman. I’d note that while the team has looked a bit thin beyond Hector Rondon and Pedro Strop, the Cubs just got Justin Grimm back from the disabled list and likely won’t be without Neil Ramirez for too much longer.
- Astros top prospect — and arguably the top prospect in all of MLB — Carlos Correa could be up to the Majors within three weeks, one Houston source estimated to Heyman. Also of note on the Astros front, he writes that a pursuit of Cole Hamels would appear to be a long shot, but Scott Kazmir (Houston native) and Clay Buchholz are names to keep an eye on for Houston, should either become available.
- Kyle Lohse seems like a natural candidate to be traded this offseason, but the Brewers are particularly interested in shedding Matt Garza‘s contract. The right-hander is guaranteed $12.5MM in 2015 and will earn the same rate in each of the following two seasons. Neither pitcher, however, has been particularly impressive for Milwaukee.
- Jean Segura is one of the players that the Brewers have the least interest in trading, but Heyman hears that the Padres would be interested, should Brewers GM Doug Melvin entertain offers. San Diego likes Alexi Amarista but prefers to use him in a utility role rather than as a starter.
- Rival teams seriously doubt that the Mets would ever consider parting ways with Noah Syndergaard, but there’s “a little hope” that the team could be persuaded to part with highly touted left-hander Steven Matz in a trade. Heyman adds that the Mets are going to remain patient with Wilmer Flores as their shortstop for the time being.
- It’s been reported that Yunel Escobar wanted no part of playing with Oakland, and Heyman hears that the reasoning was as simple as the fact that Escobar is very particular when it comes to geographical preferences and wanted to remain on the East coast. A trade to the Nationals accomplished that goal.
- The clause in Alex Guerrero‘s contract that allows him to opt out of his deal and elect free agency at season’s end, if he is traded, hinders his trade value. That shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, but given the presence of Guerrero and the versatile Justin Turner, Juan Uribe could end up as a summer trade candidate for the Dodgers.
- In some agency news, Heyman reports that Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorius will now be represented by Casey Close of Excel Sports Management — the agent for Gregorius’ predecessor, Derek Jeter. Gregorius had previously been repped by the Wasserman Media Group.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Alexi Amarista | Boston Red Sox | Carlos Correa | Chicago Cubs | Clay Buchholz | Cole Hamels | Colorado Rockies | Didi Gregorius | Hector Rondon | Houston Astros | Jean Segura | Juan Uribe | Kyle Lohse | Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim | Los Angeles Dodgers | Matt Garza | Milwaukee Brewers | New York Mets | New York Yankees | Noah Syndergaard | Oakland Athletics | Rafael Soriano | San Diego Padres | San Francisco Giants | Scott Kazmir | St. Louis Cardinals | Steven Matz | Troy Tulowitzki | Wilmer Flores | Yunel Escobar
In this week’s edition of his Inside Baseball column, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports begins by looking at the contentious courtroom showdown that stands between Alex Rodriguez and as much as $30MM worth of home run milestone bonuses. As Heyman notes, people on all sides of the case have reasons to dislike A-Rod. Rodriguez filed a lawsuit (that was eventually dropped) against the MLBPA, and he parted ways with agent Scott Boras more than six years ago. The Yankees’ reasons for resenting Rodriguez are obvious, as are those of the league, with whom Rodriguez battled to reduce a 212-game suspension to a still-significant 162 game ban. Heyman looks at the arguments that can be made by both sides as well as the potential fallout once the situation is finally resolved.
Some highlights from the latest edition of Heyman’s newest weekly column…
- Though the Red Sox aren’t blinking when it comes to trade talks with the Phillies regarding Cole Hamels, one rival GM considers Boston the favorite. The Phillies quite like center field prospect Manuel Margot, and Boston does have other nice pieces. Heyman notes that one scout actually expressed concern to him about Mookie Betts‘ ability to hit the ball on the outer half of the plate, but the Sox remain steadfast in their refusal to part ways with Betts.
- The Cubs aren’t concerned with a potential grievance being filed against them on behalf of Kris Bryant. Rather, their main concern is trying to find a way to extend him beyond his current allotment of team control. Heyman hears that Cubs are already considering trying to make him a Cub for life, though he also notes that it’s a bit early for those discussions.
- White Sox skipper Robin Ventura signed an extension of an unreported length prior to the 2014 season, and Heyman now hears that Ventura is under contract through the 2016 season. The contract length is said to be of little importance to ChiSox owner Jerry Reinsdorf, who loves Ventura.
- The Royals plan to try to do “whatever they can” to retain Alex Gordon beyond the 2015 season. The 32-year-old Gordon’s $12.5MM player option has increased to $13.25MM based on performance escalators, per Heyman. While Gordon has implied that he will exercise the option in the past, it’s exceptionally difficult to envision him merely picking up the option rather than trying for a highly lucrative multi-year deal. The Royals never felt they had a great shot at retaining James Shields, but their hope with Gordon is that the career Royal and Nebraska native might be easier to retain. Heyman adds that while the club is interested in trying to extend Salvador Perez beyond the 2019 season, those talks aren’t likely to come until after the season.
- Juan Uribe is off to a decent start with the Dodgers, but the hot play of Alex Guerrero and the addition of Hector Olivera in Spring Training could eventually lead to Uribe becoming available on the trade market. Uribe’s at hasn’t lined up with his previous seasons to this point, but he’s hit a perhaps surprisingly strong .293/.333/.435 dating back to Opening Day 2013.
- Rival executives are anxiously anticipating a Brewers fire sale following the club’s awful 5-17 start to the season, Heyman hears. One exec listed Carlos Gomez, Khris Davis, Jean Segura, Gerardo Parra, Kyle Lohse and Francisco Rodriguez as players who will draw interest, noting that Jonathan Lucroy is probably untouchable, while Matt Garza and Ryan Braun are somewhat overpriced.
- The Mets were trying for a three-year extension that contained a club option and would’ve guaranteed Lucas Duda a bit shy of $30MM. I’d imagine that with Duda could end up the beneficiary in that scenario, particularly if he can sustain the increase in his walk rate and the more notable decrease in his strikeout rate.
- Multiple Yankees people have shot down the notion that the team would pursue Hamels when asked by Heyman. One replied that the team is “not looking” at Hamels, while another wondered if Hamels is still a legitimate ace or more of just a big name.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Alex Gordon | Alex Rodriguez | Boston Red Sox | Carlos Gomez | Chicago Cubs | Chicago White Sox | Cole Hamels | Francisco Rodriguez | Gerardo Parra | Jean Segura | Jonathan Lucroy | Juan Uribe | Kansas City Royals | Kris Bryant | Los Angeles Dodgers | Lucas Duda | Manuel Margot | Matt Garza | Milwaukee Brewers | Mookie Betts | New York Mets | New York Yankees | Philadelphia Phillies | Robin Ventura | Ryan Braun | Salvador Perez
Much is still unknown about how (or if) the pending addition of Hector Olivera will impact the 2015 Dodgers. The Cuban infielder could struggle in his first taste of American pro ball and require more time in the minors than expected, or Olivera’s slightly-torn UCL in his right elbow could become a major issue and put him on the disabled list. As the Dodgers already have Juan Uribe and Howie Kendrick manning third and second base, they don’t even have any immediate need for Olivera’s services, and could be planning to only give Olivera significant playing time in 2016.
On the other hand, what if Olivera demolishes Triple-A pitching and forces the Dodgers’ hand for a promotion? While Olivera is a versatile player, it’s hard to believe he’d see much time at first base given Adrian Gonzalez‘s presence or in left field given how the Dodgers already have an outfielder surplus. Kendrick over four years younger than Uribe and has a longer track record of consistency and durability, so it would be a big surprise to see Kendrick lose his starting job for any reason other than an injury.
If the Dodgers decide to find a place for Olivera, therefore, it will likely be at the hot corner. Uribe is a free agent after the season, and many have speculated that with Olivera on board, the Dodgers are already planning for a future without the 14-year veteran. As Kendrick and Jimmy Rollins are also both pending free agents, it’s possible the 2016 Dodgers infield could consist of Olivera, Corey Seager and Alex Guerrero, with Enrique Hernandez and Justin Turner in super-sub roles.
With all this in mind, could L.A. consider cutting ties with Uribe early and start shopping the 36-year-old on the trade market this summer? If Uribe starts until Olivera is called up, then Uribe’s first month or two of the season could essentially be an audition for other teams. Turner and Hernandez could become the top fill-in third base options if Olivera were to struggle; both men hit well in 2014, especially Turner and his .897 OPS over 322 plate appearances. (Fangraphs’ Dave Cameron recently opined that the Dodgers didn’t need Olivera since they already had a cheaper comparable in Turner.)
Hamstring injuries limited Uribe to 103 games last season, though he still hit .311/.337/.440 with nine homers in 404 plate appearances. While that slash line was undoubtedly aided by a .368 BABIP, it was Uribe’s second consecutive solid year at the plate (a .769 OPS and 116 OPS+ in 2013), continuing an unlikely career turn-around after his production fell off the table in 2011-12. While his hitting has yo-yoed over the last four years, however, his defense has been uniformly tremendous. Since the start of the 2010 season, Uribe’s 41 Defensive Runs Saved are the fifth-most of any third baseman in baseball and he has the best UZR/150 (25.4) of any player who has played at least 2500 innings at third. Between that stellar glove and his improved bat, Uribe’s 8.6 fWAR over the last two seasons has been topped by only 28 players.
With all this in mind, you could argue that the Dodgers would need to see significant evidence from Olivera before they considered giving up on Uribe. Even keeping Uribe in a bench role would be a fit for L.A. since they certainly have the payroll capacity to afford a $6.5MM backup, and he plays an “integral” leadership role in the clubhouse.
Still, as we’ve already seen from the Andrew Friedman/Farhan Zaidi regime, no move can be ruled out for the Dodgers’ roster. If the team’s starting pitching depth becomes tested (i.e. Brandon McCarthy or Brett Anderson‘s significant injury histories, or Hyun-Jin Ryu’s bad shoulder), Uribe could be an intriguing trade chip for a starter. Or, as the Dodgers are having trouble finding takers for Andre Ethier, they could sweeten the pot by adding Uribe to the mix, though contract size could still be an issue.
Looking at contenders with a possible hole at third base, the Indians, Tigers, Royals and White Sox are all going with young players who have yet to prove themselves as surefire contributors. For these four teams, acquiring Uribe for a pennant race wouldn’t spell the end of, for example, Nick Castellanos or Mike Moustakas as a “third baseman of the future” since Uribe could leave in free agency next winter anyway. Beyond the AL Central, the Giants are relying on Casey McGehee to repeat his solid 2014 season, though it’s near-impossible to see the Dodgers swing a trade with their arch-rivals.
For the moment, Uribe is staying put in Los Angeles. If Olivera (or even Turner) starts swinging a hot bat, however, don’t be surprised if the Dodgers start exploring deals. The Dodgers’ overflow of talent in both the infield and outfield gives them a number of options if they need to patch holes in their rotation or bullpen, and Uribe might be the most realistic trade chip of the bunch.
Photo courtesy of Rick Scuteri/USA Today Sports Images
The Dodgers weren’t the only NL West team looking at Cuban right-hander Pablo Millan Fernandez, as MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez reports that the Giants and Padres also had interest. The Rangers and Red Sox, two of the more aggressive teams on the international signing front in recent years, were also interested in Fernandez, who agreed to an $8MM bonus with Los Angeles yesterday. Here’s some more from around the NL West…
- Madison Bumgarner has no plans to approach the Giants about re-negotiating his contract and said he has no regrets over signing his five-year extension, the World Series MVP tells Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News. In April 2012, Bumgarner signed a deal that, at the time, paid him the highest average annual value of any contract given to a player between 1-2 years of service time. The five-year, $35MM deal includes a $12MM vesting option for 2018 and a $12MM team option for 2019. While those options could increase to $16MM based on Cy Young finishes, Bumgarner’s contract has obviously been a major bargain for the Giants.
- The Brewers were one of a few teams interested in trading for Dodgers infielder Alex Guerrero, though nobody was interested in paying Guerrero the $14MM he’s owed through 2017, ESPN Los Angeles’ Mark Saxon reports. Some teams were staying away from a trade and instead hoping L.A. would just release the Cuban prospect in the wake of his tough 2014 campaign. A good Spring Training, however, has earned Guerrero a spot on the Opening Day roster and kept him in the Dodgers’ future plans.
- The Dodgers won’t be considering extensions for Jimmy Rollins, Howie Kendrick or Juan Uribe until at least partway through the season, Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times writes. All three veteran infielders are entering their walk years, but L.A. can afford to wait given the presence of Guerrero and Corey Seager, not to mention the possible signing of Hector Olivera. For his part, Uribe says he wants to stay with the Dodgers beyond 2015.
- Diamondbacks GM Dave Stewart told reporters (including MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert) and The Arizona Republic’s Nick Piecoro) that Dioner Navarro‘s $5MM salary is too much to fit into his team’s payroll. The Snakes have been linked to the Blue Jays catcher for much of the offseason and they’re reportedly still scouting him, though Stewart said there isn’t any substance to those rumors.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Alexander Guerrero | Arizona Diamondbacks | Boston Red Sox | Dioner Navarro | Howie Kendrick | Jimmy Rollins | Juan Uribe | Los Angeles Dodgers | Madison Bumgarner | Milwaukee Brewers | Pablo Fernandez | San Diego Padres | San Francisco Giants | Texas Rangers | Toronto Blue Jays
There’s another middle infielder name to be aware of, per MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez (Twitter links) and Ben Badler of Baseball America (via Twitter). Yoilan Serce, 27, will put on a showcase tomorrow in Florida. The second baseman owns an attractive .325/.395/.468 slash in his nine-year run in Cuba, but his power numbers dipped significantly over the past two seasons, with his slugging percentage coming in shy of .400 for the first time in his career. If you want an early look at Serce, check the second link to Sanchez’s Twitter account above to watch a few BP cuts.
Here are a few more notes on the thriving market for Cuban ballplayers:
- Should the Dodgers land infielder Hector Olivera, as some have suggested is likely, the plan would almost certainly be to use him at third base, Ken Rosenthal and Jon Morosi of FOX Sports report. Los Angeles would need to figure out a role or a trade for incumbent Juan Uribe in that scenario. The difficulty with stashing Uribe on the bench, of course, is that his value is tied up primarily in his glove at the hot corner. While he probably would have drawn some interest after a strong 2014, it is not clear whether there are many obvious suitors at this point.
- As others have suggested, and Rosenthal explains, there are good reasons to think that the teams that have already blown past their international bonus pool allocations will be the ones to make most of the significant investments in young Cuban talent over the coming months. Alternatively, teams that have yet to incur the significant penalties for going well over their spending allotment are waiting to see if they can land multiple players so as to make it worthwhile.
- The Diamondbacks, for instance, already signed Yoan Lopez and now have interest in second baseman Andy Ibanez, per the report. Sources also tell Rosenthal that Arizona is out of cash, however.
In the video atop his latest Notes column for FOX Sports, Ken Rosenthal states that he feels this will finally be the year that the Rays deal David Price, as they can receive max value for him by dealing their ace to a team that can use him for two playoff pushes. He also adds that he expects the Rays to move Ben Zobrist, even though his price tag is affordable, simply because the demand for Zobrist will be so high.
Here are some more highlights from his column…
- Hanley Ramirez‘s poor glove is perhaps the main reason that he and the Dodgers have yet to agree to an extension, Rosenthal writes. He wonders how much that flaw will impact Ramirez’s value on the open market at a time when teams are placing a higher premium than ever before on defense. He adds that if Ramirez does stay in L.A. and shift to third base in the long-term on his next contract, the team may have to trade Juan Uribe and his $6.5MM 2015 salary.
- Looking at other Dodgers issues, Rosenthal writes that many executives around the league expect that it will ultimately be Matt Kemp who is traded to clear the team’s outfield logjam, though it likely won’t happen until the offseason. He adds that the Dodgers are likely to be in the market for a starting pitcher after the news that Chad Billingsley is out for the season, as Josh Beckett and Dan Haren are tough to rely on down the stretch.
- Tigers outfielder J.D. Martinez completely revamped his swing mechanics this offseason before he was released by the Astros in Spring Training. He signed a minor league deal with Detroit two days later and found himself teammates with the man whose mechanics he spent the entire offseason studying — Miguel Cabrera. Martinez tells Rosenthal he watched video of Cabrera and Ryan Braun all winter and “re-invented” himself at the plate. It may not be sustainable, but the early results are positive; Martinez is hitting .300/.333/.570 with six homers in 108 PA with Detroit.
DECEMBER 24th, : Uribe gets a $2MM signing bonus with $6.5MM in year one and $6.5MM in year two, tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.
4:30pm: The Dodgers confirmed the signing.
DECEMBER 14th, 7:17pm: Uribe will receive $15MM in the deal, ESPN's Buster Olney tweets.
3:52pm: The Dodgers are set to re-sign Juan Uribe to a two-year deal, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter). Uribe is represented by Praver/Shapiro, according to the MLBTR Agency Database. Financial terms of the deal are not yet known.
Earlier today, Dodgers GM Ned Colletti said that he was hopeful that he could bring the third baseman back to Los Angeles. It was a mild surprise to hear that given the reports indicating that the Dodgers were set to move on after a lack of responsiveness from Uribe's side to their latest offer. The Dodgers were said to be seeking a one-year deal with an option for year two but it would appear that the veteran has secured two guaranteed years.
Uribe hit .273/.331/.438 for the Dodgers last season, a dramatic improvement over the .199/.262/.289 line he gave L.A. in the previous two campaigns. The new deal keeps the 34-year-old in a comfortable spot – he's spent the last three years in L.A. and thanks to stints in Colorado and San Francisco, he's spent all but five of his 13 big league seasons in the NL West.
Uribe made over 100 starts for the Dodgers in 2013 and was incredibly valuable, posting the fourth-best WAR among all free agents. It's a far cry from his position prior to the '13 season when some wondered if the Dodgers might look to cut Uribe and eat the $7MM remaining on his deal.
The Dodgers were looking at re-signing Michael Young to be their everyday third baseman as a contingency plan and while he could still return to L.A., it would appear that he'd have to sign on in a different role. The Marlins and Rays were also among the clubs with interest in Uribe.
MLBTR's Tim Dierkes predicted that Uribe would land a two-year, $12MM deal at the outset of the offseason.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Here is the latest on Juan Uribe, who is one of the most intriguing infield candidates remaining on the free agent market:
- Dodgers GM Ned Colletti said today that he remains hopeful of bringing back Uribe at third, reports Ken Gurnick of MLB.com (via Twitter). Recent reports had indicated that Uribe and the Dodgers may be moving apart after the sides could not agree on a one-year deal with an option for a second.
- Earlier this morning, we heard that Michael Young could be of interest as the everyday man on the hot corner in Los Angeles, based in part on the team's perception that Uribe could be planning to depart.
- The Marlins remain interested in Uribe, MLB.com's Joe Frisaro reported late last night. Miami would likely not only use Uribe at third, but also to take some at-bats against lefties at first base. Uribe wants two or three years in a deal, says Frisaro.
The Rays have interest in free agent Juan Uribe, sources tell Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter). The veteran would play mostly at first, some at second base, and also back up Evan Longoria at third base.
With limited available third base options out there, Uribe has a good amount of interest from around baseball. The Rays will have to vie with the other Florida team, amongst others, for his services. Uribe hit .273/.331/.438 for the Dodgers last season, a dramatic improvement over the .199/.262/.289 line he gave L.A. in the previous two campaigns.
The Dodgers have interest in bringing Uribe back, but they're reportedly set to move on since they haven't heard back on their latest offer.
11:33am: Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald tweets that the Marlins aren't currently showing interest in Uribe.
11:05am: Rojas tweets that the Dodgers have offered one year with an option, while the White Sox are willing to go to two years.
10:26am: Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes reports that the Dodgers and White Sox are also pushing to land Uribe (Twitter link).
The Marlins have been surprisingly active this offseason, inking Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Garrett Jones and Rafael Furcal to free agent deals. The team is said to be aggressively shopping first baseman Logan Morrison as well, which has been rumored to be one potential means of addressing Miami's need at third base.
Uribe would be a spendier option than landing a third baseman for Morrison but could allow the Fish to widen their range of targets in discussing Morrison trades by removing what is currently a glaring hole at third base. Marlins third basemen batted just .255/.308/.320 in 2013 — a line upon which Uribe's .273/.331/.438 would be a sizable upgrade.