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Jurickson Profar Rumors
The Cardinals entered play Monday with the worst bullpen ERA in baseball following the early injury to closer Jason Motte. Here's more regarding the Redbirds…
- Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch tweeted yesterday that he's hearing rumblings of an April/May trade for the Cardinals that may have some legs. Strauss appeared with Tim McKernan on AM 590 radio this morning to discuss the St. Louis bullpen in greater depth, and added that more details regarding the potential trade could come to life in the coming weeks.
- Strauss' colleague Bernie Miklasz writes that GM John Mozeliak has resolved disastrous bullpen situations before and may be forced to do so again in 2013. In addition to a trade, he lists flipping the roles of Joe Kelly and Mitchell Boggs or moving Lance Lynn to the 'pen and recalling a starter from the minors.
- More from the Post-Dispatch, as Derrick Goold discusses the Jurickson Profar-for-Oscar Taveras swap that many pundits have suggested. Goold writes that neither GM could afford to be the one who ended up losing in that trade. One AL official told Goold, "Then you’re the new [Lou] Brock-for-[Ernie] Broglio guy.” Goold also adds one NL official's opinion that he "wouldn't trade Taveras for two Profars."
The Rangers and Cardinals have not discussed the possibility of trading top shortstop prospect Jurickson Profar for top outfield prospect Oscar Taveras, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. A trade of the two teams' No. 1 prospects would make a great deal of sense in terms of those teams' needs, but it would be tough to pull off. "The Cardinals need a shortstop. The Rangers need an outfielder. The answer is there for both for years to come," one American League official tells Goold. "You just can’t do it. You can’t be the guy who is wrong if one works out and becomes a star as expected and the other doesn’t. Then you’re the new Brock-for-Broglio guy."
Nonetheless, it's a tantalizing trade idea. Deals centered around two highly-touted youngsters happen very rarely, but they're exciting when they do. The Rays' trade of Delmon Young, Brendan Harris and Jason Pridie to Minnesota for Matt Garza, Jason Bartlett and Eduardo Morlan is one of the few recent examples. In any case, it doesn't sound like the Profar-for-Taveras deal is in the offing. "[T]he reality is we have just gotten to the point we wanted with our farm system — with more elite talent back and set to contribute to the major-league club," says Cardinals GM John Mozeliak. "I’m not in the mood to start breaking it up."
Should this deal happen, though? In Profar, the Cardinals would get a long-term answer at shortstop, where they're currently starting Pete Kozma. Meanwhile, the Rangers would acquire a premium hitting prospect at a position that isn't shortstop, where they have Elvis Andrus signed to a long-term deal.
Profar and Taveras are too valuable for positional need to be the most important variable when considering a trade. After all, an injury easily could clear a spot for either player in his current organization, and positional logjams tend to resolve themselves over time. The Cardinals could deal an outfielder, or lose one to injury. The Rangers could eventually move Ian Kinsler to first. Before trading Profar or Taveras, you would need to be confident the other was the better player. Taveras has had the better hitting numbers, but Profar is younger and plays the tougher defensive position. Scouts love both of them, comparing Profar to Barry Larkin and Taveras to Vladimir Guerrero.
Let's consider the deal from the Rangers' perspective. If you were Rangers GM Jon Daniels, would you trade Profar for Oscar Taveras?
Here are a few notes from around baseball:
- The Orioles have had ongoing discussions with the Rangers about trading for outfielder Julio Borbon, writes MLB.com's Brittany Ghiroli. Borbon will need to be placed on outright waivers by 2pm ET tomorrow if he is not traded beforehand, but the Rangers appear confident that they will strike a deal. While Texas is interested in a major league capable pitcher with options, the Orioles are reluctant to give up arms and are waiting for the asking price to drop. For the O's, Borbon would bring depth, speed, and another lefty bat in the outfield mix.
- The Mets and Astros have also expressed interest in Borbon, Ghiroli further reports. Both clubs entered the season with among the least-entrenched outfield mixes in baseball.
- Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein spoke about what the club's Wrigley Field renovation deal could mean for the quality of the squad that takes the field at the friendly confines, as reported by Bruce Levine of ESPNChicago.com. According to Epstein, the club "need[s] revenues to increase in order for us to execute our baseball plan. We expect them to [increase]." Epstein added: "We are not where we want to be right now from a revenue standpoint and therefore we are not where we want to be from a payroll standpoint." While Epstein said that revenue was not the sole "determining factor in our success," he needs it to allow the front office to supplement homegrown talent with "some aggression in free agency."
- For his part, Cubs owner Tom Ricketts says that, "if [the deal] is approved, we will win the World Series." As Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times explains, however, there is some cause for skepticism. The Cubs' ownership has continued to push out its promised timeline for a championship. And with the Cubs topping Forbes' list of most profitable franchises in 2012, Wittenmyer questions Ricketts' continued unwillingness to be more specific about when and to what extent the budget will expand.
- Most big league second baggers do not start out at the position. It is perhaps unsurprising, then, that several teams are considering moving big-name young players to second base, with major potential hot stove implications. ESPN's Keith Law (on ESPN Insider) broke down the possible in-season transition of the Blue Jays' Brett Lawrie, as well as two prospects who are keystone candidates: Anthony Rendon of the Nationals and Jurickson Profar of the Rangers. A Lawrie move would be motivated by gaps elsewhere in the Jays' lineup, with the primary impact being on Toronto's affirmative trade plans. The two highly-rated prospects, on the other hand, find themselves blocked at their natural positions. For Rendon and Profar, then, a move to second could be the only viable alternative to an eventual trade.
- With Rendon presumably blocked by Ryan Zimmerman at his natural third base, and with a Zimmerman move to first blocked for at least two seasons by Adam LaRoche, a switch to second seems attractive at first blush. Rendon is known as a very good fielder, and may soon be knocking on the door after starting the year destroying Double-A pitching. But even putting aside the presence of young incumbent Danny Espinosa, Law says that Rendon's lack of agility and suspect ankles should preclude such a move. Unless some drastic change intervenes — Zimmerman's throwing woes worsen; the NL adopts the DH; unforeseen injury — the Nationals could be forced to consider dealing Rendon after this season.
- On the other hand, Law explains that the shortstop Profar, blocked by Elvis Andrus, can certainly handle second. But he would be less valuable there, and the Rangers would need to convince Ian Kinsler to become a first baseman or outfielder. Law goes so far as to suggest that Profar has the capacity to be shifted to centerfield, despite having never seen time in the outfield as a professional. Of course, Profar has already established his value at a premium defensive position. Such a move would not only be risky, but would keep Profar out of the big league lineup for longer while he adapted to a totally new position. Law says that bringing Profar up to man second would add value to the Rangers right now. Certainly, if the club is unwilling to make such a move this season, it is reasonable to wonder (as many have) whether Texas might instead dangle Profar as the centerpiece of a blockbuster deal to acquire a top-flight starter or outfielder.
Sixty-six years ago today, Jackie Robinson broke baseball's color barrier when he made his Major League debut for the Brooklyn Dodgers. After an 0-for-3 debut, Robinson went on to hit .297/.383/.427 with 12 home runs, a league-leading 29 stolen bases and won Rookie of the Year honors. As MLB.com's Richard Justice writes, the movie "42" introduces Robinson to a new generation of Americans and helps to immortalize the legacy of one of America's most courageous figures: "Robinson paid an incomprehensible price in the pain he endured and the responsibility he carried," writes Justice.
Baseball as we know it would not be the same were it not for Robinson's courage, talent and perseverance. Here's a look at some news from around the league on Jackie Robinson day…
- In his latest MLB.com mailbag, T.R. Sullivan writes that the Elvis Andrus extension, while risky for the Rangers, is still beneficial to the team. He credits Scott Boras for "astutely putting risk" on Texas.
- Within that same piece, Sullivan writes that the Rangers would trade a package of prospects highlighted by Jurickson Profar "in the blink of an eye" if it meant landing David Price from the Rays or Giancarlo Stanton from the Marlins.
- Jim Callis of Baseball America feels that Mark Appel has plenty of leverage in the upcoming draft and will likely sign a bonus in the $6MM neighborhood. As Callis notes, teams can't risk offering something like a $5MM "take it or leave it" offer and signing the rest of their picks. Doing so could ultimately lead to paying over slot to sign Appel, costing them future picks. It's in the best interest of whoever drafts Appel to sign him first, and doing so could prove highly expensive.
- Callis also notes that Appel and Oklahoma right-hander Jonathan Gray have established themselves as the clear-cut top two prospects in the draft.
- Major League Baseball is making progress on its investigation of the Biogenesis scandal, writes Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. However, it appears MLB is looking for "a smoking gun" before taking what could be its only chance to question players such as Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun who have been connected to the Miami clinic. Heyman confirms that MLB has purchased Biogenesis documentation, but notes that the MLBPA will be sure to question documents that were produced after a cash transaction.
The Yankees turned the first 4-6-5-6-5-3-4 triple play in Major League history tonight in the eighth inning of their 5-2 win over the Orioles. Manny Machado was the unlucky Oriole who put the ball into play and he represented the third out while he was caught between first and second base.
Here are some news items from around the majors as we head into the weekend…
- Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski has spoken to an opposing GM about a closer within the last week, Dombrowski told Jim Bowden during an interview on MLB Network Radio (Twitter link).
- The Mets haven't had any internal discussions about offering Matt Harvey an extension, Brian Costa of the Wall Street Journal reports, and likely won't do so until after the season at the earliest. Costa hears from a team of business students who project a four- or five-year deal worth $30-$35MM following the 2014 season as a fair possible extension for Harvey, though Costa wonders if Harvey (and agent Scott Boras) would agree to such a contract.
- Jason Isringhausen hasn't officially retired since he is open to pitching again in the right situation, but the veteran reliever tells FOX Sports Midwest's Ben Frederickson that "as of last year, I left on my terms. So, if it never happens again, I'm perfectly happy."
- Now that teams can trade from their pools of international bonus money, Baseball America's Ben Badler looks at which clubs might look to acquire or sell some of their funds this summer.
- In an ESPN Insider piece (subscription required), Jim Bowden discusses why he thinks a Jurickson Profar-for-Oscar Taveras deal would work for both the Rangers and Cardinals. Such a swap would be what Bowden calls a "challenge" trade that can shape a franchise, akin to the one he made as Reds GM in 1992 when he dealt Paul O'Neill to the Yankees for Roberto Kelly. Of course, as Bowden notes, that deal backfired badly for him: "True, that O’Neill-for-Kelly deal will haunt me to my grave, but it was the gutsiest trade I’ve ever made."
- A Profar-for-Taveras deal wouldn't make sense for the Rangers at this time, ESPN Dallas' Richard Durrett opines. Rather than deal for another prospect, Durrett argues Texas could move Profar as part of a package for a proven Major League star like David Price or Giancarlo Stanton. Or, the Rangers could simply keep Profar for themselves and instead move Ian Kinsler to first base or the outfield to make room.
Earlier today, Dave Cameron of Fangraphs explored a hypothetical swap of super-prospects: Rangers shortstop Jurickson Profar and Cardinals outfielder Oscar Taveras. Even if one were to prefer the upside of Taveras to the floor of Profar, Cameron says, the present value of Profar to the middle-infield-hungry Cards tilts clearly in favor of such a deal for St. Louis. For the Rangers, though, Taveras is not quite as clean a fit, as the club would presumably need to move Nelson Cruz to first. And giving up Profar now could hurt the team's chances of landing another hypothetical trade target: Giancarlo Stanton. If Texas asked for the Cardinals to kick in something more to sweeten the deal, however, it would begin to look less attractive to St. Louis. Thus, while St. Louis GM John Mozeliak says he'd have to consider such a deal (Twitter link), Cameron concludes that it is unlikely to materialize.
- MLBTR has learned of some additional provisions contained in Elvis Andrus's recent extension, each of which would figure in if the Rangers ever looked to trade the shortstop. In addition to a limited no-trade clause, Andrus would obtain full no-trade protection for the balance of the contract if he is traded at any point. Further, the previously reported vesting club option for 2023 would instead become a player option if Andrus is with a different team when the contract expires in 2022 (assuming, of course, that the deal has not already terminated via one of its opt-out clauses.) The potential club option and player option both vest upon the same 2021-22 plate appearance thresholds.
- The Astros, firmly in rebuilding mode, may well have the right baseball operations leadership to make it successful. Houston GM Jeff Luhnow, the Cardinals' scouting director from 2005-11, is credited with drafting more 2013 Opening Day major leaguers (21) than any other scouting director. Baseball America's Conor Glassey broke down Luhnow's many successes, which make up a sizeable portion of St. Louis's current (and likely future) roster.
In an interview with MLB Network Radio's Casey Stern and Jim Bowden (audio link), Cardinals GM John Mozeliak said that he would have to consider a hypothetical swap of Oscar Taveras and the Rangers' Jurickson Profar. Mozeliak went on to say that while the club is well set in the outfield for years to come, they're not quite as strong in the middle infield. Here's more from around baseball..
- Since word of the Elvis Andrus extension leaked, the Rangers have received at least a couple of trade inquiries on Profar, writes Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. However, Rangers people say they are as high on Profar as ever and have no intention or need to trade him.
- Even though it's costly to secure insurance for baseball contracts, the Giants are looking into a policy for Buster Posey's lucrative deal, writes Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle. An insurer might demand an exclusion for any injury related to the left ankle that he damaged in the 2011 collision with the Marlins' Scott Cousins.
- Nationals third baseman and Brodie Van Wagenen client Ryan Zimmerman is intrigued by Jay-Z's partnership with CAA, writes Bill Ladson of MLB.com. “When you get a guy like [Jay-Z], who wants to get involved in baseball — he is obviously one of the icons of our generation for his music,” Zimmerman said. “I think he has become a very savvy and smart businessman. It will be interesting to see what happens and where it goes and how it goes."
Perhaps no player in the game brings as much focus and preparation to his at-bats as Joey Votto, ESPN's Buster Olney details in this must-read profile of the Reds first baseman (Insider subscription required). "It's all about reframing the challenge," Votto said. "I've stopped caring about runs and RBIs. I care more about how high a percentage of productive at-bats I can have, how consistently tough and competitive I can be for the opposing pitcher. That's my goal every single time I go up there."
Here's the latest from around the NL Central…
- A swap of Rangers shortstop Jurickson Profar for Cardinals outfielder Oscar Taveras "has not been discussed," one of the involved GMs tells Peter Gammons of the MLB Network (Twitter link). Needless to say, such a deal would be a blockbuster; Profar and Taveras rank first and third, respectively, on Baseball America's preseason ranking of the sport's 100 best prospects. Gammons wonders if Profar-for-Taveras would be on the table "if [Scott] Boras didn't represent [Elvis] Andrus," thus making it uncertain if Andrus would sign an extension to remain in Texas.
- Few teams would benefit from signing Kyle Lohse as much as the Brewers, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel opines. The Brewers have been adamant about going with younger pitchers and not spending big on veteran starters, but Haudricourt wonders if Lohse could be an option given how some of Milwaukee's current rotation members have struggled during Spring Training.
- Mark Rogers, one of those struggling pitchers, is out of options and the Brewers are looking at several different ways to avoid losing him on waivers, Haudricourt writes.
- Jose Tabata needs to produce to remain with the Pirates, as Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette outlines how Tabata is out of options and, if he doesn't make the roster, could be a good trade chip due to his team-friendly contract. Click here for a full list of every player who is out of options this spring.
- From earlier today, the Cardinals released Ronny Cedeno and we heard the Tigers weren't interested in Cubs reliever Carlos Marmol.
The Rangers have enviable shortstop depth, but that doesn't mean they're planning to make a trade. GM Jon Daniels indicated that Elvis Andrus is not being moved, Peter Gammons of MLB Network reports (on Twitter).
"We're not breaking up our strengths, and one of biggest strengths is the left side," Daniels explained.
Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported last week that the Rangers will look to trade Andrus next offseason if the sides don't reach a long-term extension. Rangers people aren't "overly optimistic" about signing the Scott Boras client to a new contract, Heyman reported. Andrus, 24, will earn $4.8MM in 2013 and $6.475MM in 2014 before hitting free agency.
Top prospect Jurickson Profar looms as a possible replacement for Andrus. There's no clear starting role for Profar presently, though opportunities generally emerge over the course of a six month season. Profar, who entered the season as Baseball America's top-ranked prospect, turned 20 last month.
The Cardinals would presumably be atop the list of potentially interested teams should Daniels revisit his stance and listen to offers on Andrus.
The Rangers will look to deal shortstop Elvis Andrus next offseason if the club can't sign him to a multiyear extension, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman reports. People within the Texas organization are reportedly not "overly optimistic" they can extend Andrus, who is scheduled to hit the free agent market following the 2014 season. The Rangers, of course, already have a ready replacement at shortstop in Jurickson Profar, the consensus top prospect in baseball.
Andrus, 24, enjoyed his best offensive season yet in 2012 (.286/.349/.378 with 21 steals and 85 runs) and also provided very strong defense (9.1 UZR/150) at short. He is entering the second year of a three-year, $14.4MM extension signed in February 2012 that covered his three arbitration years.
While Andrus recently said he wants to stay in Texas, the team hasn't been able to come to terms on a major extension. The Rangers have twice offered Andrus long-term deals in recent years, Heyman reports. Andrus is represented by Scott Boras, whose clients often eschew extensions in favor of testing free agency (though this is not always the case, as evidenced by recent high-profile examples as Carlos Gonzalez and Jered Weaver). There was a great deal of trade speculation over Andrus this offseason, most notably from the Diamondbacks as they and the Rangers attempted to work out a trade for Justin Upton. Texas, however, declined to move either Andrus or Profar.
Heyman says the Rangers haven't approached Andrus about an extension this winter, though if the two sides did work out a multiyear deal, it would likely mean that Profar would have to change positions. There was speculation that Ian Kinsler could be moved to first or the outfield to make room for Profar at second base, though Kinsler said in January that he wasn't yet comfortable with a position switch. Nelson Cruz, David Murphy and Lance Berkman could all be free agents following the 2013 season so that could create space for Profar in the outfield, or Kinsler could be moved then to make way for Profar at second.