Jurickson Profar Rumors

NL Central Links: Taveras, Profar, Lohse, Tabata

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.

Rangers Intend To Keep Elvis Andrus

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.


Rangers Will Look To Trade Andrus, Barring Extension

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. 



Texas Notes: Porter, Boesch, Profar

General manager Jeff Luhnow told Andy Martino of the New York Daily News that he can envision manager Bo Porter leading the Astros for a long time. “He could be one of those guys who is an Astros manager for decades, not just years,” Luhnow said of Porter. “The players knowing that this is the group that’s going to be here — it begins to lay the foundation for stability, which is really what we’re looking for.” The Astros hired the 40-year-old Porter after the 2012 season. 

Here are more notes on the Astros and Texas’ other team, the Rangers

  • Earlier today MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart reported that the Astros will take a look at Brennan Boesch (Twitter link). The Tigers released the outfielder this morning.
  • The Rangers are high on Jurickson Profar, but it's still not clear what his role will be in 2013, Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports writes. The Rangers would "not necessarily" need an everyday role for Profar to justify keeping him on the roster in the view of manager Ron Washington. That said, a Triple-A assignment hasn’t been ruled out. Here's a look at service time considerations for top prospects such as Profar.
  • George A. King III of the New York Post reported today that the Rangers are watching Joba Chamberlain.

Quick Hits: Profar, Arbitration, Rockies, Epstein

Jurickson Profar tops Baseball America's newly-released list of the top 100 prospects in the game.  The Cardinals, Marlins and Twins each placed six prospects amongst the top 100, and BA's John Manuel and J.J. Cooper discussed the list in a reader chat.  If there was any doubt that Profar was the cream of the minor league crop, the Rangers shortstop also ranked first on the top 100 prospect lists recently released by MLB.com and ESPN's Keith Law

Here's the latest from around the majors…

  • The 133 players who filed for arbitration last month received an average salary increase of 119%, according to a report by The Associated PressBuster Posey had the biggest raise, going from $615K in 2012 to $8MM in 2013.  The AP also examines why no arb cases went to hearings this winter, the first time this has ever happened.  You can check out the results of every arbitration case on MLBTR's Arbitration Tracker.
  • The Denver Post's Patrick Saunders looks at a number of Rockies-related topics in a reader mailbag, including how the Rockies largely stood pat with their pitching staff over the winter, instead hoping that improved health from incumbent starters upgrades the rotation.  Saunders also doesn't see Kyle Lohse as a fit with Colorado, as Lohse likely has no interest in pitching at Coors Field and the Rockies aren't keen to spend big money on a free agent starter.
  • Theo Epstein talks to CSN Chicago's David Kaplan about his first 16 months as Cubs president, the progress that the franchise has made and what still has to be done to make the team successful.
  • Right-hander Seth McClung has been throwing for teams, CBS Sports' Danny Knobler reports (Twitter link).  McClung, 32, last pitched in the Majors in 2009 as a reliever and spot starter for the Brewers and has since pitched in the minors for the Brewers, Rangers and Cubs. 
  • Freddy Sanchez is looking to keep playing and has turned down minor league offers in hopes of finding a Major League job as a utility infielder, Sanchez's agent Paul Cobbe tells Andrew Baggarly of CSN Bay Area.  Sanchez, 35, hasn't played in a game since June 2011 due to shoulder and back injuries but around 20 teams reportedly asked to see his medical records this offseason.  Cobbe says Sanchez would love to re-sign with the Giants but they don't want to sign him to a guaranteed contract.

AL West Notes: Norris, Luhnow, Athletics, Profar

The Mariners dominated headlines around baseball today, agreeing to an extension with Felix Hernandez, agreeing to terms with Joe Saunders, finalizing a one-year deal with Kelly Shoppach and designating Shawn Kelley for assignment.  While the bulk of the news from the AL West came from Seattle, here are some more items from around the division…

  • In an interview on the MLB Network (video link), Astros GM Jeff Luhnow said he was looking forward to having Bud Norris in the rotation next season and that he wasn't currently talking to anyone about trading the right-hander.  Luhnow noted, however, that the Astros' recent history has shown "we're willing to talk to any club about any player if we feel the deal furthers our strategy to develop the best young talent in baseball….We'll continue to look at all options."  FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reported on Tuesday that Norris was available and that the Cardinals, Padres and Orioles were all interested in Norris during the Winter Meetings.
  • Speaking of Houston's recent moves, Luhnow's trades as Astros general manager are recapped by MLB.com's Brian McTaggart.
  • "Our currency is not cashOur currency is young players," Athletics GM Billy Beane tells CBS Sports' Danny Knobler. While the A's won't see a major payroll increase in 2013, the team has been dealing young talent in exchange for more expensive veterans this offseason since Oakland feels it can contend next season.  
  • The topic of a Jurickson Profar-for-David Price deal was recently posed to ESPN's Keith Law during a radio appearance, and ESPN Dallas' Richard Durrett goes further in-depth in analyzing the specifics of such a trade between the Rangers and Rays.  Durrett would make the trade since it would give the Rangers a proven ace, while Law wouldn't make the deal one-for-one since Texas would be giving up too many years of team control.  Law, however, doesn't think Tampa Bay would consider such an offer anyway since, "it would be very hard for the Rays to justify a deal like that with the perceived value of Price."

Padres, D’Backs Discussed Upton, Kubel, Headley

11:37pm: The Padres and D'Backs found no match in trade talks about Upton or Jason Kubel, reports Jack Magruder of FOXSportsArizona.com (on Twitter). San Diego doesn't want to move Headley and they don't have a spot for Kubel with Carlos Quentin on the roster.

3:27pm: The Padres and Diamondbacks have had on-and-off discussions about a deal involving Justin Upton and Chase Headley since July, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.  However, those talks have yet to result in a deal.

Even though that deal hasn't worked out, the Diamondbacks continue to discuss Upton with other clubs, including the Rangers and Mariners while also considering offers for Jason Kubel.  The Rangers want to build a package around third baseman Mike Olt rather than shortstop Elvis Andrus or infielder Jurickson Profar and they're willing to add a top pitching prospect and a third quality piece to the package, sources say.

However, sources tell Rosenthal that the D'Backs believe they could make an even better deal for Upton with another club like the Mariners, who are aggressively trying to add a power hitter.  However, as we've heard before, Seattle is on Upton's four-team no-trade list and he's not inclined to approve a deal to the M's.  The Mariners might be able to change Upton's mind with a lucrative contract extension.

Earlier this week we learned that the Braves have also inquired on Upton.

Mike Axisa contributed to this post.


Justin Upton Rumors: Monday

We'll round up today's rumors on Justin Upton, one of the winter's most intriguing trade candidates, right here, with the latest updates added to the top of the page throughout the day…

Earlier updates:

  • The Diamondbacks are said to be one of the most aggressive teams at the Winter Meetings so far, tweets ESPN.com's Buster Olney, who says rival teams believe Arizona will move Upton.
  • The Rangers haven't given up on Upton, though the D-Backs continue to insist Elvis Andrus is included in any deal, says Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Texas would prefer to build a package around players like Mike Olt and/or Derek Holland rather than giving up Andrus or Jurickson Profar, according to Rosenthal.
  • Jack Magruder of FOXSportsArizona.com tweets that the Rangers and D-Backs are still talking about Upton, but that there's "nothing there" at the moment.

Rosenthal On Royals, Uehara, D’Backs, Span, Catching

Here are the latest hot stove items from FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal….

  • Teams in search of bullpen help have been looking at Royals right-handers Greg Holland and Aaron Crow, though Kansas City isn't likely to trade any of its Major League players unless they can move Jeff Francoeur.
  • The Royals bolstered their pitching staff by re-signing Jeremy Guthrie and trading for Ervin Santana, but Rosenthal still feels the team needs a true ace.
  • The Phillies are interested in free agent reliever Koji Uehara.
  • The Diamondbacks could deal Jason Kubel instead of Justin Upton, which would be an easier move to make though Kubel would bring back a lesser return.  A source tells Rosenthal that the Rangers are still interested in Upton but are waiting for the D'Backs to back down on their demands for Elvis Andrus or Jurickson Profar in return.
  • Denard Span could be a good trade target for a club that doesn't want to pay for one of the expensive center fielders on the free market.  With the Twins desperate for pitching, Rosenthal speculates that a team like the Braves (who need a center fielder and have pitching depth) could be a trade partner.
  • The free agent catching market is stalled since the Red Sox and Blue Jays have catchers available for trade, plus the Yankees are waiting to address their pitching before making a decision on Russell Martin.
  • Speaking of the Blue Jays' catching depth, Rosenthal thinks that Toronto is in no hurry to deal J.P. Arencibia, as a dependable catcher is needed if top prospect Travis D'Arnaud hasn't recovered from his season-ending knee injury.
  • Reed Johnson is drawing interest from several teams, including the Braves, who acquired Johnson from the Cubs last July.

Rosenthal’s Latest: Upton, Rays, Youkilis, Dodgers

Here's the latest from Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports

  • The Rangers continue to insist that they will not trade either Elvis Andrus or Jurickson Profar for Justin Upton, which could allow the Rays to emerge as the front-runner. They could offer the Diamondbacks James Shields or Jeremy Hellickson in addition to shortstop prospect Hak-Ju Lee.
  • The White Sox and Phillies are interested in Kevin Youkilis, and the Dodgers are considering him as well. Rosenthal says other clubs are concerned whenever Los Angeles is reportedly in on a player given their financial might.
  • The Orioles and Nationals are still engaged in a dispute over money received from MASN — both clubs own the network, but Baltimore's stake is nearly 90% — though Nats GM Mike Rizzo said that will not limit the club's ability to spend.
  • Angels GM Jerry Dipoto is not concerned about finding a pure closer. He intends to add the best bullpen arms he can and let things figure themselves out.
  • A rival executive told Rosenthal that he expects Dan Haren to sign with the Padres. Haren is a West Coast guy and Padres GM Josh Byrnes originally acquired him from the Athletics while running the Diamondbacks a few years ago.
  • “Like him. Don’t love him," said a Red Sox official when asked about Adam LaRoche. Boston is reportedly pursuing the first baseman.
  • Joakim Soria and Ryan Madson will not be ready to pitch at the start of the season. Both right-handers are coming off Tommy John surgery.