Juan Uribe Rumors

NL West Notes: Headley, D’Backs, Kershaw, Uribe

We've already had one batch of NL West notes today on MLBTR, a collection of Giants notes and Tim Dierkes broke down Juan Uribe's free agent profile.  Here is even more news from around the division…

  • The Padres will likely discuss an extension with Chase Headley during the GM meetings, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman reports (Twitter link).  As Heyman notes, there is "no evidence [the] sides have ever been close to" an agreement.  Headley is set for free agency following the 2014 season and while his name has surfaced in trade talks, the current belief is that the Padres will keep him and hope he can return to form following a disappointing 2013 season.
  • An informal poll of six scouts reveals clear preferences for Adam Eaton over A.J. Pollock and Chris Owings over Didi Gregorius, The Arizona Republic's Nick Piecoro writes.  The Diamondbacks could deal one of their young center fielders or shortstops for help in other areas this offseason, though one scout notes that Arizona would be left with solid players no matter who they dealt.
  • It's a little unusual that Clayton Kershaw hasn't signed a huge extension with the Dodgers yet, though ESPN Los Angeles' Mark Saxon notes that if Kershaw isn't comfortable signing for a decade or longer, that could be in the Dodgers' best long-term interest.
  • It has been rumored that the Dodgers could trade from their surplus of outfielders this offseason but GM Ned Colletti told reporters (including MLB.com's Ken Gurnick) that they have a lot of question marks, health-wise.  Colletti pointed to last season's pitching injuries as an example of how you can never have enough roster depth: "We went to Spring Training with eight starting pitchers and everybody said we needed to trade some of them. Pretty soon we didn't have enough. We'll see what happens. We have to have big league coverage."
  • Also from Gurnick, the Dodgers have an interest in bringing back Juan Uribe on a short-term contract.  MLBTR's Tim Dierkes predicts Uribe will find a two-year, $12MM deal in free agency but that even could be a bit long given that Hanley Ramirez might be moved to third if Alexander Guerrero works out best as a shortstop rather than as a second baseman.
  • Ryan Vogelsong has received interest from multiple teams and there's no guarantee he'll re-sign with the Giants, MLB.com's Chris Haft writes.  Haft also explores some other free agent options as part of the mailbag piece.

Free Agent Profile: Juan Uribe

Prior to the season, there was speculation the Dodgers could release Juan Uribe, eating the $7MM remaining on his contract just to open up the roster spot after he played at replacement level from 2011-12.  However, Uribe made over 100 starts for the Dodgers in 2013 and was incredibly valuable, posting the fourth-best WAR among all free agents.

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Strengths/Pros

Uribe was worth 5.1 wins above replacement according to FanGraphs, a number topped in 2013 by only three other free agents: Robinson Cano, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Shin-Soo Choo.  No other position player even came close to Uribe, with Marlon Byrd checking in at 4.1.

How did he do it?  In large part through defense.  Playing mostly third base, Uribe posted a UZR/150 of 35.3 in 900 1/3 innings.  Only four other players exceeded 30 this year, and their defensive excellence is uncontested: Shane Victorino, Juan Lagares, Gerardo Parra, and Manny Machado.  Uribe's hot corner defense is no fluke, as he's posted strong UZR numbers there in each season since '09.  Another stat, defensive runs saved from The Fielding Bible, had Uribe at 15.  That figure was tied for the 15th best in baseball.  The National League Gold Glove at third base went to Nolan Arenado, and rightfully so, but Uribe was one of three finalists along with David Wright.  The Fielding Bible's panel of ten experts ranked Uribe's defense sixth in baseball at third base this year, behind only Arenado in the NL.

Uribe has the versatility to play all around the infield, though it's been a while since he's played anything other than third base regularly.

One reason Uribe was able to pick up 102 starts (and 132 total games) for the Dodgers this year is that he had a solid year with the bat as well.  Uribe hit .278/.331/.438 in 426 plate appearances.  He's always had pop, with a career isolated power mark of .167 and eight seasons of double digit home runs.  He hit a career-best 24 bombs in 2010 with the Giants, leading to his contract with the Dodgers.  This year, Uribe was able to hit for average while also drawing enough walks to create a solid OBP.  Weighted Runs Created Plus (wRC+), which is park and league-adjusted, measures a player's total offensive value against the league average.  Uribe's 116 figure this year means he was 16% better than the league average hitter, and it ranked eighth among third basemen with at least 400 PAs.  By this measure, Uribe had a better year with the bat than Pablo Sandoval, Chase Headley, Kyle Seager, Pedro Alvarez, Martin Prado, and other starting third basemen.

Uribe made significant contributions to the 2005 White Sox and 2010 Giants, so his pair of World Series rings are well-deserved.  He did not receive a qualifying offer from the Dodgers this offseason, so signing him will not involve forfeiting a draft pick.

Weaknesses/Cons

Uribe was a terrible hitter from 2011-12, hitting .199/.262/.289 with six home runs in 474 plate appearances.  His contract looked like a big mistake after the first two years, and he took criticism for being out of shape.  Uribe endured a left hip flexor injury in May 2011, and hit the DL again in July with a similar injury.  In September 2011 he had surgery for a sports hernia, giving hope for a rebound in '12 when he showed up to camp in better shape and healthy again.  However, he hit the DL in May for a wrist injury and was marginalized as the season wore on.  Hanley Ramirez's thumb injury in March 2013 created an opportunity for Uribe to play regularly at third base.  Even after a stellar 2013, no one has any idea how many useful seasons the 34-year-old Uribe has left.

Uribe posted a ridiculous 25.6% walk rate in April this year, settling in at a more Uribe-like 5.0% for the rest of the season.  He also had a .322 batting average on balls in play this year, compared to a career BABIP of .282.  It's reasonable to expect Uribe to draw fewer walks and have fewer hits drop in next year, pulling his OBP down toward his career .299 mark.  Projections suggest Uribe may not even be a league average hitter in 2014.  If he reverts to being a .200 hitter with no power, Uribe may be nothing more than a defensive replacement.

Personal

Juan and his wife Ana reside in the Dominican Republic in the offseason with their four children.  Juan was a second cousin of Jose Uribe, a shortstop who played in the Majors from 1984-1993 and died in a car crash in 2006.  Juan was signed by Rockies scout Jorge Posada, Sr., father of the Yankees catcher, in 1997.  MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez described the signing in this 2010 article.

Uribe is a big hit in the clubhouse.  In 2010, Ann Killion of Sports Illustrated wrote, "Uribe is beloved, always happy, consistently upbeat."  Uribe's teammates have been singing his praises for many years.

Market

The Dodgers may be open to bringing Uribe back on a one-year deal, after the first two years of their initial commitment went so poorly.  Otherwise, a team with unsettled plans in the short-term at third base would make sense for Uribe, which could mean the White Sox, Yankees, Cubs, Angels, Marlins, and Phillies.  I'm not sure if any teams would consider Uribe as a semi-regular second baseman, but in that case the Orioles, Blue Jays, Tigers, Royals, Braves, and Rockies could be factors.  Uribe may be best served filling an Eric Chavez type of role, in whom the Yankees, Angels, and Diamondbacks are interested according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.  

Uribe benefits from a weak free agent market for third basemen.  He's as much of a starting third baseman as anyone else in the group.

Expected Contract

The question with Uribe: one year or two?  On one hand, the bar for a two-year deal is quite low.  Utility infielders and other part-time players routinely get two years, and Uribe's performance in 2013 suggests he can contribute regularly.  On the other hand, Uribe's contract with the Dodgers three years ago was the first multiyear pact of his career, and the first two years went horribly.  In the end, I think Uribe will get a two-year, $12MM deal.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Dodgers Notes: Rotation, Uribe, Mattingly

Despite their rotation surplus, Ned Colletti and the Dodgers are "in no rush" to trade a starting pitcher, MLB.com's Ken Gurnick reports. Zack Greinke and Chad Billingsley are dealing with minor injuries, and Ted Lilly is coming back from shoulder surgery. Even if all the Dodgers' starting pitchers are healthy, one scenario might be for Hyun-Jin Ryu, Chris Capuano and Aaron Harang to begin the season in the bullpen.

Previous reports have indicated that other teams may be trying to force the Dodgers into a tough spot by lowballing them on trade offers until the need to set their 25-man roster forces L.A. to make a decision about how to handle its eight starting pitchers. If one of their starters isn't healthy or if the Dodgers are willing to use several of their starters in relief, that negotiation tactic might not work. Forcing a number of starters to the bullpen, though, would simply move the logjam from one part of the team to another, where it might affect pitchers like Matt Guerrier and a number of younger relievers. Here are more notes from the Dodgers.

  • The Dodgers may eat the remaining $8MM on Juan Uribe's contract, Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Times reports, but Uribe is trying to recast himself as a utilityman who can also back up Adrian Gonzalez at first base. Uribe's three-year, $21MM contract, signed after the 2010 season, almost immediately proved to be a poor investment, as Uribe hit .204/264/.293 in the first year of the deal, then .191/.258/.284 in 2012.
  • Dodgers manager Don Mattingly says his team should consider letting him go if the team does not make the playoffs, Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reports. "If we can't get them to play the game right, they may have the wrong voice. There's a ton of talent here," Mattingly says. Mattingly is not under contract for 2014, and Shaikin reports that Mattingly does not expect to receive a contract extension before the season starts.


Dodgers Could Move Punto, Uribe

The Dodgers have an abundance of backup infielders on their 40-man roster, and some of them may be moved, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. Nick Punto could be a trade candidate, and Juan Uribe and his $7MM salary could be released, according to Rosenthal.

Punto, 35, appeared in 87 total games for the Red Sox and Dodgers in 2012. He posted a .219/.321/.281 batting line in 191 plate appearances while earning a $1.5MM salary. He'll earn the same amount in 2013 before hitting free agency. Like Punto, Uribe has one year remaining on his contract. He'll earn a $7MM salary in 2013 after missing much of the 2012 season with a wrist injury.

After acquiring Skip Schumaker from St. Louis, the Dodgers have seven backup infielders, including Punto, Uribe, Jerry Hairston, Elian Herrera, Dee Gordon and Justin Sellers. Gordon has drawn interest from many teams and could also be traded. The Dodgers designated Scott Van Slyke for assignment yesterday.


Trade Rumors: Harang, Capuano, Phillies

Let's round up a few rumblings from Nashville on players who might be on the trade block…

Earlier updates:

  • There have been "no conversations" about trading Andre EthierDodgers manager Don Mattingly tells Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times (Twitter link).
  • One rival executive thinks the Royals will eventually make a deal for Rays starter James Shields, according to Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com. Within his piece, Knobler explains why the Royals are more inclined to trade Wil Myers than Billy Butler.
  • The return the Twins received for Denard Span has somewhat hampered the Indians' efforts to trade Shin-Soo Choo, as Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports explains in a pair of Twitterlinks.
  • Ramon Santiago's name has surfaced at the Winter Meetings as a potential trade candidate, according to MLB.com's Jason Beck (via Twitter). While Beck isn't sure if the Tigers would move him, he says the utility infielder could draw interest.
  • The Dodgers are "aggressively shopping" Juan Uribe in Nashville, but predictably aren't receiving much interest, writes Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com. Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times tweets that when he asked an MLB official if the Yankees could have interest in Uribe with Alex Rodriguez out, he was met with a chuckle.

Dodgers Notes: Kershaw, League, Ramirez, Cruz

Good news for Dodgers fans as General Manager Ned Colletti confirmed that Clayton Kershaw will not require surgery on his right hip, tweets Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times.  Here's more on what Colletti had to say to reporters with all links going to Hernandez's Twitter..

  • The Dodgers will make a strong effort to re-sign their relievers, including free agent Brandon League (Twitter link).  The former Mariner told reporters yesterday that he has informed the Dodgers that he hopes to return.
  • At this point in time, Colletti is leaning towards Hanley Ramirez playing shortstop in 2013, Hernandez tweets.
  • Meanwhile, the club is heading into the offseason with the idea that Luis Cruz can be the Dodgers' third baseman in 2013 (Twitter link).  Cruz, 28, hit .297/.322/.431 with six homers in 78 games for the Dodgers in 2012.  It would make sense for the Dodgers to look in-house for an answer at third with limited options at the position on the open market this winter.
  • Colletti was asked if Juan Uribe has a place on the team in 2013 and the GM responded "We'll have to see," (Twitter link).  To part ways with Uribe, the Dodgers will have to eat the $10.3MM remaining on his deal.

NL West Links: Uribe, Melky, Fowler, Padres

Here's the latest from the NL West…

  • Juan Uribe's time with the Dodgers could be nearing an end, writes Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times, as the team will need to open a roster spot with Adam Kennedy due back from the DL this week.  Uribe has just a .553 OPS in 459 plate appearances since signing a three-year, $21MM free agent contract before the 2011 season.  The Dodgers would have to eat the approximately $10.3MM left on Uribe's deal but Hernandez notes this would hardly be a burden to the club's free-spending new owners.
  • Melky Cabrera told reporters (including Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle) that he hadn't heard anything from his agent Sam Levinson about tabling extension talks with the Giants until after the season.  Andrew Baggarly of CSN Bay Area tweets that the two sides "had conceptual talks" about a new contract, so as Schulman speculated, it's possible the discussions never got serious enough for Levinson to bring anything solid to his client.
  • Dexter Fowler has played well enough to earn a contract extension, though Troy Renck of the Denver Post thinks the Rockies should wait until midway through next season to explore such a deal just to ensure that Fowler is for real.  Fowler is still under team control through the 2015 season and eligible for arbitration three more times as a Super Two player.  Fowler is earning $2.35MM this season.
  • Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune outlines a few ways that the Padres' prospective new owners can quickly win the favor of San Diego fans.

Quick Hits: Quentin, Hagadone, A’s, Uribe

A few stray links to pass along as the NL All-Stars celebrate their third consecutive victory over the AL …

  • The Indians are trying to acquire Carlos Quentin from the Padres, but the sides "don't have much common ground right now," according to Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Quentin is an impending free agent and figures to be dealt, as the Friars are unlikely to extend him with their ownership situation still in flux.
  • The MLB Players Association is considering filing a grievance on behalf of Indians reliever Nick Hagadone, who was placed on the minor league disqualified list after injuring himself in a fit of frustration following a recent poor outing, according to Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Indians GM Chris Antonetti said Hagadone was angry that he pitched poorly and not because he had been informed he'd been optioned to the minor leagues. Players do not receive salary or accrue service time while on the disqualified list.
  • The odds of the Athletics moving to Sacramento, as was recently proposed by the city's mayor, former NBA star Kevin Johnson, is highly unlikely, according to the Contra Costa Times. The A's, meanwhile, remain in stadium limbo.
  • The Dodgers may be in an active-roster bind with the impending returns of outfielders Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier from the disabled list, and though they could possibly cut ties with oft-injured and ineffective infielder Juan Uribe, that move remains unlikely, writes Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Times. The balance of the $12MM owed to Uribe over the next season-plus would be tough for the Dodgers to swallow, Dilbeck explains.

NL West Notes: D’Backs, Padres, Uribe

The Diamondbacks and Padres were two of the ten teams that cracked $10MM on draft bonus spending this year, according to Baseball America. Here's the latest on those two clubs and their NL West rivals…

  • It's wouldn't be surprising to see the D'Backs look into the possibility of acquiring a shortstop this month, despite Willie Bloomquist's solid play in place of the injured Stephen Drew. But Edgar Renteria? One D'Backs source tells Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic that the Reds "won't move him" (Twitter link).
  • Corey Brock of MLB.com tells the story of Drew Cumberland, the 46th overall draft pick in 2007, who had to retire because of a medical condition that disrupts balance in the inner ears. Hearing the news was understandably tough for the 22-year-old former Padres prospect. "Baseball … it's my passion. It's what I love," he told Brock.
  • Mike Scioscia's Tragic Illness responds to Tim Dierkes’ recent suggestion that the Dodgers could trade Juan Uribe for Carlos Zambrano. The Dodgers don’t have sure things on the infield going forward, so they may prefer to hold onto Uribe to ensure that they have at least one regular they can count on heading in to 2012.

Dodgers ‘Open For Business’

The Dodgers are "open for business," according to Jon Heyman of SI.com (on Twitter). The Los Angeles front office will consider trading potentially useful veterans including Hiroki Kuroda, Jamey Carroll, Ted Lilly, Juan Uribe, Matt Guerrier and others. 

Peter Gammons reported over the weekend that the Dodgers, now 42-55, are looking to shed salary. Kuroda is drawing interest and may require compensation to accept a deal, though he the Dodgers may decide to keep him. The Brewers, who are looking to acquire help on the left side of the infield, have checked in on Carroll.