Justin Smoak Rumors

Rosenthal On Diamondbacks, Hart, Rangers

Let's dive into the latest edition of Full Count from Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports..

  • While Dan Haren's trade value isn't exactly peaking, the D'Backs have internally discussed moving the 29-year-old hurler.  Another option would be to move No. 2 starter Edwin Jackson.  The combined salary of the two pitchers is set to jump from roughly $12.8MM this season to $20.5MM in 2011.  That increase could be too much for Arizona to handle, even with Brandon Webb's salary coming off of the books.
  • The Brewers are once again drawing interest in outfielder Corey Hart.  The Giants, Padres, and A's are among the teams that could use a boost in the outfield and Milwaukee will seek starting pitching in return.  Rosenthal doesn't see the Giants as a fit because they won't part with any of their starters and their outfield situation has recently improved.  Meanwhile, the A's and Padres want to be comfortable with their overall health and chances before they make any moves.  If Jim Edmonds and Jody Gerut get healthy, Hart could be dealt.  Hart is under team control through 2011, should his team choose to tender him a contract.
  • The Rangers still believe that either Justin Smoak or Chris Davis will be their long-term answer at first base, but they could seek a veteran stopgap for the second half of the season.  Paul Konerko is likely too rich for their blood.  Cleveland's Russell Branyan would be a more economical solution.


Odds & Ends: Rays, Posey, Smoak, Hillman

Some links as we wonder what to make of the red-hot Padres…


Odds & Ends: Smoak, Grandal, Harper, Zambrano

Links for Thursday, as the Pirates try to recover from their worst loss in franchise history

  • Highly regarded Rangers first base prospect Justin Smoak has gotten the call to replace Chris Davis at first base, reports MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan.  The timing of his promotion ensures the Rangers will control Smoak through 2016.  Super two status is likely if Smoak is up for good, meaning he'll go to arbitration four times beginning after the 2012 season.  As for Davis, you have to wonder if a trade is in his future.
  • In a mailbag, MLB.com's Jordan Bastian speculates on when Blue Jays fans can expect to see Adeiny Hechavarria and Brett Wallace arrive in Toronto.
  • In an excellent piece for Yahoo! Sports, Jeff Passan looks at the state of baseball in the Dominican Republic, a topic MLBTR's Nick Collias addressed earlier in the week.
  • Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com reports that Royals minor-league lefty Adam Bostick has been suspended 50 games for a second positive drug test.
  • ESPN's draft coverage team tweets that the Royals are looking at University of Miami catcher Yasmani Grandal for the fourth overall pick in June.  Five days ago ESPN's Keith Law had this to say about Grandal: "He's the top college catcher in the country, can absolutely stay behind the plate, and hits well enough to be an above-average player in the majors."  Click here for a reminder of the full 2010 draft order. 
  • Baseball Prospectus' Kevin Goldstein looks at four question marks about potential #1 pick Bryce Harper.  Harper is not getting good reviews for his makeup.
  • Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune points out that Carlos Zambrano and Lou Piniella don't seem in complete agreement on whether the righty's bullpen move is temporary.


When Should Rangers Call Up Smoak?

The Texas Rangers are facing an impending decision on whether to call super-prospect Justin Smoak up to replace struggling first baseman Chris Davis. Smoak, who is ranked as baseball's ninth-best prospect by Keith Law and 13th overall by Baseball America, currently remains in Triple A. Let's take a look at the pros and cons of bringing Smoak to the majors in the near future.

Pros:

  • As MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith pointed out in his piece on calling up top prospects, if a player makes his major league debut after April 19th, he won't earn a full year's service time this season. So the Rangers could call up Smoak as early as this week and still have delayed his free agency by a year.
  • Davis is off to a homerless, .229/.289/.343 start to the 2010 campaign, while Smoak has been tearing the Pacific Coast League up (.353/.500/.647 with two homers).
  • When the Rangers drafted Smoak in 2008, Baseball America praised his fielding, citing "Gold Glove-caliber actions and soft hands." Davis's defense at first base is slightly below average (career -2.7 UZR/150).
  • The AL West race looks wide open, and the Rangers presumably want to field their best possible lineup immediately. Delaying Smoak's debut for another month and a half could compromise their chances of contending.

Cons:

  • If Texas calls Smoak up before late May or early June, he will earn enough service time to eventually qualify as a Super Two, hitting arbitration a year early.
  • It's probably too soon in the season to give up on Davis, considering his career numbers include a .481 slugging percentage and a 162-game average of 30 homers.
  • There's no guarantee that Smoak will thrive at the major league level right away. Even a can't-miss prospect like Matt Wieters posted a mere .263/.308/.369 line in the first 70 games of his career.
  • Smoak's underwhelming Triple A numbers last season also suggest he could use more seasoning, though they can be partially attributed to a strained oblique.

Smoak will almost certainly wear a Rangers' uniform at some point this season. Whether that happens before June depends on a variety of factors, both on-field and off-field. The bet here is that the Rangers give Davis at least another week or two to heat up. If he continues to struggle, we could see Smoak in the big leagues sooner rather than later.


Olney’s Latest: Smoak, Davis, Ripken, Mathis, Lowell

In today's blog post at ESPN (Insider required and recommended), Buster Olney writes that Rangers' first base prospect Justin Smoak is off to a strong start in Triple-A and could push Chris Davis either out the door or onto the bench. Smoak is hitting .300/.475/.567 with two homers in 40 plate appearances so far this year, while Davis is off to a .194/.265/.290 start with 10 strikeouts in 34 plate appearances.

Here's the rest of Olney's rumors…

  • A possible reason why Orioles owner Peter Angelos declined to hire Cal Ripken Jr. is because of "concern about whether the addition of the legend would lead to office politics and ugly fallout." 
  • With the Angels carrying three catchers, Olney speculates that Boston could be a trade match for Jeff Mathis, and wonders if the talks could be expanded to include Mike Lowell given the Halos' troubles at the hot corner. Red Sox catchers have thrown out just one of 17 base stealers this season, and Mathis has thrown out 23% of would-be base stealers in his career.

Rangers Tuesday Recap

Richard Durrett of ESPNDallas rounds up some Texas Rangers-related rumors from the second day of the winter meetings. We've heard one or two of these already, but let's check out the highlights of Durrett's recap….

  • The Rangers are looking to bolster their bullpen, and names of interest include J.J. Putz, Matt Lindstrom, and Brett Myers. Ramon Ramirez and Chris Ray are also on their radar.
  • As FOX Sports' Jon Paul Morosi indicated earlier today, no Kevin Millwood trade appears imminent. A few teams are interested, but the Rangers will pull the trigger only on "the right deal." Presumably the "right" return is more about money than talent.
  • If the club is able to move Millwood, they'd look to fill the hole in their rotation with another veteran starter. Ben Sheets and Rich Harden are potential options, with the Rangers hoping to meet with Sheets' agent this week.
  • Dealing Millwood would also allow Texas to free up some money to pursue a right-handed bat. Perhaps Vladimir Guerrero or Jermaine Dye.
  • The team is looking for a catcher as well. Durrett names Jason Kendall, Rod Barajas, Jose Molina, and Yorvit Torrealba as targets.
  • Durrett and others heard earlier that the Rangers offered top prospects Neftali Feliz and Justin Smoak to Florida in exchange for Josh Johnson. Another official denies that Texas made that proposal, but suggests that the team does have interest in Johnson.

Odds & Ends: Unit, Rhodes, Crisp, Valverde

More links for the evening…


Rangers Offered Smoak & Feliz For Johnson

The Rangers must be confident in their chances next year. Both T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com and Richard Durrett of ESPNDallas.com are reporting that the team offered Justin Smoak and Neftali Feliz to the Marlins for Josh Johnson.

If that offer didn't get it done, then the Marlins truly are committed to starting the season with their 25-year-old ace. Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post says the Marlins are still open to an extension with Johnson.


Odds And Ends: Royals, Kazmir, Hudson

Some links for the morning…

  • Jeff Sackmann of the Hardball Times can imagine an excellent Royals team in 2012, but says there's no guarantee we'll see such a thing.
  • As MLB.com's Doug Miller shows, cheap, no-name closers can be just as effective as proven commodities.
  • Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports says the addition of Scott Kazmir should help the Angels reach the playoffs once again.
  • Tim Hudson and Dan Meyer were traded for each other in 2004. This week, Hudson pitched against Meyer's team for the first time, as MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez reports.
  • Jamey Newberg ranks Justin Smoak and Martin Perez ahead of the other Rangers minor leaguers in this week's prospects report for MLB.com.

Roy Halladay Not Traded

5:38pm: Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski says his team was not involved with Halladay, according to MLB.com's Jason Beck.

5:10pm: The Blue Jays and Rangers were talking last night when they found that Halladay wouldn't approve a deal to the Rangers, according to MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan. The sides weren't close to a deal when they found out.

The Jays, like other teams the Rangers spoke with, coveted Derek Holland, Neftali Feliz, Justin Smoak and Pedro Borbon. Holland's now in the majors and the other three rank on Jonathan Mayo's updated list of top prospects.

4:20pm: Jeff Blair of the Globe and Mail reports that Ricciardi was "never moved by a club" to trade Halladay, though two or three teams were serious about acquiring him and ten inquired. 

3:25pm: Halladay has not been traded, according to Sherman on Twitter.  So many wasted words.

10:12am: Joel Sherman of the New York Post has a slew of comments from Ricciardi about a Halladay trade today being highly unlikely.  Ricciardi admitted he'd listen again in the offseason, but says keeping Doc today signifies an attempt to contend in 2010.

Meanwhile, MLB.com's Jason Beck reports via Twitter that the Tigers never got to the point of exchanging names on Halladay.  Instead, they've reportedly acquired Jarrod Washburn.

10:01am: MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan says the Rangers' talks for Halladay "appear to have broken off" and are "somewhere between dead and on life-support."  Seems like the Rangers are unwilling to trade pitcher Derek Holland, especially after last night's gem.

9:53am: Yahoo's Tim Brown says the Red Sox will "engage Ricciardi early" today on Doc before going after Adrian Gonzalez or Victor Martinez.  However, when quizzed by Brown earlier this morning about the Halladay talks, Ricciardi replied, "Nothing going."

8:34am: One way or another, pitcher Roy Halladay can get some peace of mind about six hours from now when the trade deadline passes.  Until then, it's rumor-mania.  Yesterday night, things seemed to heat up with the Rangers, but Blue Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi labeled trade talks "dead" in a general sense.  Earlier in the day the Red Sox and Dodgers were considered the frontrunners.

This morning, SI's Jon Heyman tells us the Rangers "may have come the closest" to acquiring Halladay.  Even more so than the Phillies?  Heyman says the Rangers talks hit "a snag or two late Thursday," decreasing the chances for a trade.