Justin Upton Rumors

Quick Hits: Braves, Ross, Cabrera, Kang, Aoki

The White Sox, Yankees and Astros have spent heavily on relief help this offseason, and ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick wonders if they’ll end up regretting their expensive contracts for veteran relievers. “In the last couple of years we’ve lost a lot of games late in the eighth and ninth inning,” says White Sox manager Ventura. “After a while you sit there and think, ‘We have to have somebody who can come in and do this.’ Everything has its risks — and this is one of them — but we’re pretty confident we got a guy [David Robertson] who we can put in the bullpen and be a leader.” The reason for all the spending on players like Robertson, Zach Duke, Andrew Miller, Luke Gregerson and Pat Neshek isn’t so much that teams are trying to emulate the Royals‘ ferocious 2014 bullpen, Crasnick suggests. Rather, it’s more that teams are loaded with cash and pitchers like Robertson and Miller are very good. Here are more notes from around the Majors.

  • The Braves continue to explore potential trades involving Justin Upton and Evan Gattis, MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reports (Twitter links). The Braves have spoken about Upton and Gattis with five teams Wednesday, and continued to consider ways to include B.J. Upton or Chris Johnson in trades involving Justin Upton or Gattis. The Padres had previously looked like a potential destination for Justin Upton, but it would appear that their agreement to acquire Wil Myers today rules them out as a potential trade partner, at least for now.
  • Free agent catcher David Ross is deciding between the Red Sox, Cubs and Padres, WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford writes. Meanwhile, lefty reliever Craig Breslow has spoken to the Red Sox and Cubs. Ross has played for the Red Sox, of course, and has a history with Jon Lester and Theo Epstein of the Cubs (although his signing with the Cubs would likely result in, or come as the result of, a trade of Welington Castillo). The Padres are in the process of trading both Yasmani Grandal and Rene Rivera, but are also in the process of acquiring Ryan Hanigan and Tim Federowicz, so it’s unclear where Ross would fit in.
  • Asdrubal Cabrera has drawn interest from the Giants, Athletics, Mets, Cardinals and Twins, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman tweets. Heyman writes that Cabrera could play second base or third base as well as shortstop, although there have been rumblings that Cabrera prefers to play shortstop or second base only, and not third.
  • Those same five teams have asked about Korean middle infielder Jung-ho Kang, although the Athletics and Mets are downplaying their interest, Heyman tweets. Kang was posted earlier this week.
  • Heyman lists the Orioles, Reds and Mariners as possibilities for Nori Aoki, with the veteran outfielder potentially receiving two to three years at $7MM-$8MM per year. Aoki had previously been connected to the Orioles and Reds, with the Orioles mostly interested in him as a backup option. Heyman reported last week that Aoki was looking for a three-year deal. Earlier this offseason, we at MLBTR guessed he would receive two years and $16MM.

Padres, Rays, Nationals Nearing Agreement On 3-Team Deal

Reports emerged yesterday that the Padres and Rays were discussing a deal that would send outfielder Wil Myers to San Diego. Subsequent reports greatly expanded the possibilities of that deal, including multi-team concepts, different packages from San Diego, and spin-off deals. If you would like to catch up on the earlier rumors, follow the page break link.

Various reports have indicated that a deal is close but that multiple different permutations are still in play. Here’s the latest, from this morning on:

  • Jim Bowden of ESPN.com reports on Twitter that the deal is done, while Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweets that it is nearing the finish line. No draft choices will be moved in the deal, says Sherman.
  • The Rays are down to two possible scenarios, and are waiting to hear whether the Nationals are in or out, Topkin tweets. Regardless, Tampa is set to move Myers, Hanigan, and two lower-level minor league players. On its end, San Diego would send Rivera, Smith, and Bauers, as well as Ross and Turner. It appears that Tampa would either keep the latter two players or flip them to D.C. for Souza and an A-ball lefty. (Twitter links.) Turner, of course, was taken 13th overall in last year’s draft and would therefore need to be included as a player to be named later.
  • Lefty Jose Castillo is one of the other players that would move from Tampa, ESPN.com’s Keith Law hears (Twitter link). Since signing to a $1.55MM bonus, the 18-year-old Venezuelan has spent each of the last two years with the Rays’ Rookie league affiliate, mostly as a reliever. Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs recently gave an update on Castillo in his Rays prospect breakdown, noting that the projectable hurler has a big fastball and has returned to health after sitting out much of 2014 with a tender arm.
  • Another young lefty, Travis Ott, appears to be the final name in this potential scenario, according to a report from Rosenthal (Twitter links). Rosenthal cautions that this is not a final agreement, but the scenario a source outlined for him, and adds that competitive balance picks could also be a component. (The Padres have the fifth competitive balance Round A choice, which is currently the 41st overall choice.)

Earlier Updates

  • The Rays are interested in San Diego’s first-round pick from last year, shortstop Trea Turner, according to Heyman (Twitter link). It is not clear that the young N.C. State product is in play, however, Heyman adds.
  • Another element of the deal being discussed is a swap of catchers Ryan Hanigan and Rene Rivera, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports tweets.
  • The primary deal under contemplation includes 19-year-old first baseman Jake Bauers, right-handed pitching prospect Joe Ross, the fellow young righty Burch Smith, and two other players from San Diego’s side, Jim Bowden of ESPN.com tweets. A draft comp pick may also be involved in the swap, but prospects Matt Wisler and Austin Hedges are not believed to be, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets.
  • Joel Sherman of the New York Post indicates in a tweet that the Nationals and Rays have an agreement in place involving outfielder Steven Souza in the event that the primary deal is consummated. He says that Tampa “will spin players” to D.C. if the Myers trade goes down. Earlier reports from Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times (via Twitter) and Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter) connected the teams on that player, after Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports tweeted that the Nats had become involved.
  • Ben Zobrist is not expected to be part of the potential deal between the Nationals and Rays, Sherman tweets. Indeed, neither Zobrist nor Evan Longoria are involved in any of the scenarios under consideration, Topkin tweets.

(more…)


Rosenthal On Padres, Upton, Smith, Nats, Haren

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports has updates on a number of situations around the league in his latest pair of columns. Here are some highlights from his most recent work…

  • The Padres are interested in a wide array of hitters, but they’re “all over” Justin Upton, Rosenthal hears. However, now that they’re set to acquire Matt Kemp, the Padres don’t want to trade Andrew Cashner, Ian Kennedy or Tyson Ross, which might make a deal difficult to line up. They could possibly follow the Howie Kendrick-for-Andrew Heaney model and offer six years of a top prospect such as Austin Hedges or Matt Wisler.
  • Seth Smith is drawing interest from the Mariners and Orioles, among other clubs. Trading Smith would be an easier route for the team to take than moving one of Carlos Quentin or Cameron Maybin, neither of whom has much (if any) trade value. The Padres, however, gave Smith assurance that he wouldn’t be dealt this offseason when he signed a two-year, $13MM extension in early July. Then again, that assurance came before GM A.J. Preller had been hired.
  • The Nationals recently offered the Mariners both Jordan Zimmermann and Ian Desmond in exchange for right-hander Taijuan Walker and shortstop Brad Miller, according to Rosenthal. However, the Mariners balked at giving up six years of Walker and five of Miller for just one year of Zimmermann and Desmond at a combined total of $27.5MM. Washington also discussed Zimmermann with the Red Sox.
  • The Marlins could look to trade Dan Haren if he doesn’t want to pitch for them in 2015, Rosenthal tweets. Haren made his preference to pitch on the West coast (specifically near his wife and two young children) clear when he signed with the Dodgers. At the end of the 2013 season, he discussed the difficulty of pitching across the country from his family with Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post, and more recently he said he planned to retire if traded out of the area. Rosenthal notes that the Marlins spoke to Haren the night of the trade, and their preference is for Haren to pitch for their club in 2015. The Angels, who would represent one logical trade partner, given Haren’s geographic preference, have said they won’t be trading for him.


NL West Notes: Diamondbacks, Dodgers, Padres

GM Dave Stewart says the Diamondbacks‘ acquisitions of Rubby De La Rosa and Allen Webster in the Wade Miley trade this week was about adding power arms, Nick Piecoro reports. “We, organizationally, haven’t had any real power arms in our organization since Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling,” says Stewart. “So this gave us an opportunity to put two power arms in our rotation.” That’s not entirely accurate, of course — as Piecoro notes, the Diamondbacks’ rotation has recently included Max Scherzer and Daniel Hudson. There have also been any number of relievers, like Matt Stites, who pitched in the Snakes’ bullpen last year. Still, there’s no doubt the Diamondbacks added velocity in the deal. Stewart now says he sees his rotation as Josh Collmenter, De La Rosa, Jeremy Hellickson and Webster, with Vidal Nuno, Trevor Cahill, Chase Anderson, Hudson, Randall Delgado, Andrew Chafin and Robbie Ray battling for the fifth spot, with the possibility that they could use the savings from the Miley and Miguel Montero deals to acquire a higher-end starter.

  • One of the Diamondbacks’ top scouts, Todd Donovan, has departed to become a special assignment scout with the Rays, Piecoro writes. Donovan’s move comes on the heels of former scouting director Ray Montgomery leaving for a front office job with the Brewers.
  • Many of the Dodgers‘ moves this offseason were made with team defense in mind, Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times reports. Matt Kemp, who’s headed to the Padres, rates as one of the worst defensive center fielders in baseball, and Hanley Ramirez, who signed with the Red Sox as a free agent, is a weak defensive player as well. Jimmy Rollins and Howie Kendrick should be a defensive improvement over Ramirez and Dee Gordon in the middle infield, and the Dodgers’ outfield defense should be better as well.
  • Even after acquiring Kemp, the Padres are still looking for a hitter. They’ve already been connected to Justin Upton, but Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune lists four more hitters who might make sense: Reds outfielder Jay Bruce (who might not be available), Pirates first baseman Pedro Alvarez, C/OF Evan Gattis of the Braves, and free agent 1B/OF Michael Morse. Other than Bruce, though, all four are weak defensive players, and one wonders how they might fit in San Diego, particularly the outfielders. One would think the Padres would want to continue with Seth Smith in a starting role after his strong 2014 season, so adding another corner outfielder to the mix would force Kemp into center, where he’s well below average. Perhaps Smith would become a trade candidate if the Padres do add another outfielder.

NL Notes: Marlins, Diamondbacks, Braves

For many Winter Meetings participants, baseball transactions are the last thing on their mind; the event also includes a trade show and job fair. As MLB.com’s Corey Brock writes, some number of job hunters are looking not only to break into the broader business of the game, but to launch a career in baseball operations. Even getting an internship is significantly harder than ever, according to Brock (and the hopefuls with whom he spoke). Here are a couple notes from the National League.

  • The Marlins have “checked off a lot of boxes,” in the words of president of baseball operations Michael Hill, but there is plenty of opportunity left in the offseason, as MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro writes in a breakdown of where things stand in Miami. A power bat is, of course, on the team’s wish list, and Garrett Jones would be shopped hard if that occurs. There could be a logjam in the rotation if Dan Haren elects to play next year, with Nathan Eovaldi a possible trade chip if he does.
  • In a conference call addressing the Wade Miley deal, Diamondbacks GM Dave Stewart explained that the team pulled the trigger because Rubby De La Rosa and Allen Webster added power to the team’s rotation (via MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert, on Twitter). Stewart also said that the team has had internal discussions on the possibility of going after Max Scherzer or James Shields, but has yet to decide whether to do so, as Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic tweets.
  • Figuring out what to do with the Braves is tricky, but it sounds like team president John Hart won’t be sentimental about keeping the team together, judging from his comments to Jeff Schultz of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Let’s be honest: This team finished 29th in offense,” Hart says. “It’s not like I’m breaking up the ’27 Yankees.” Hart’s Braves might not have been in the same trouble the Pirates were when GM Neal Huntington said almost exactly the same thing in 2009, but the Braves have been busy so far this offseason, dealing Jason Heyward and Jordan Walden for Shelby Miller and Tyrell Jenkins, and signing Nick Markakis and Jim Johnson. Still, Hart adds, the Braves aren’t going to “throw a hand grenade on the club and blow it up” in preparation for the opening of their new stadium in 2017. Hart adds that he has had discussions with “six to eight” teams about Justin Upton, but none that have resulted in a trade.

Padres Still Pursuing Justin Upton

Despite the fact that they’ve struck a deal to acquire Matt Kemp from the division-rival Dodgers, the Padres remain interested in adding Justin Upton to fill their other corner outfield slot, according to MLB.com’s Mark Bowman (Twitter link). Bowman hears that the Friars are still among the teams with interest and adds that he wouldn’t be shocked to see both Kemp and Upton in San Diego next year.

New San Diego GM A.J. Preller has made upgrading his offense a very clear goal, as evidenced by the acquisition of Kemp and pursuits of name like Upton, Pablo Sandoval and Yasmany Tomas. Of course, an acquisition of Upton would be much different than acquiring any of those players, as Upton has just one year of team control remaining at a reasonable $14.5MM.

Adding Upton to the fold would underscore the need for the Padres to move some of the current outfielders on their roster. Carlos Quentin would perhaps hold some appeal to an American League team looking for a DH, were the Padres to eat some of his remaining $8MM salary. And Seth Smith, who is coming off a career-year at the plate but has historically had notable platoon issues, could be of interest to other teams in the event that the Padres land a pair of new power-hitting outfielders. Smith did just sign a two-year, $13MM extension in July, but that decision was curiously made before Preller had even been tabbed as the new GM.

The Padres could also move one of their center field options in Will Venable (one year, $4.25MM remaining) or Cameron Maybin (two years, $16MM). Venable’s cheaper salary and cleaner injury history make him the more movable of the two, though neither of the two is coming off a good season; Maybin was again limited by injuries and also suspended 25 games for amphetamine usage, while Venable slumped to an uncharacteristic .224/.288/.325 batting line.


Mariners Notes: Melky, Viciedo, Rios, Upton, Desmond, Smith

Here’s the latest on the Mariners heading out of the Winter Meetings, courtesy of Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune:

  • The Mariners and Melky Cabrera seem to have staked out their positions, with Cabrera after five years and upwards of $60MM and the M’s not willing to go past three and around $42MM.
  • Seattle is increasingly looking at other possibilities, though the idea of a Dayan Viciedo trade was downplayed by Dutton’s sources. The team does have interest in Alex Rios, though he seems to be waiting out other market moves.
  • The M’s still have interest in Justin Upton, but do not want to meet the Braves’ asking price. Meanwhile, the team is “cool” at present to the idea of dealing for Ian Desmond.
  • One alternative trade candidate is Seth Smith of the Padres, though Dutton notes that he would not be optimal since he swings from the left side.

NL East Notes: Upton, Giants, Rizzo, Gordon

We’ve already published one set of NL East Notes today, but there’s no shortage of news coming out of the Winter Meetings.  Here’s the latest from around the division…

  • The Giants would only be interested in taking on Braves outfielder Justin Upton and his substantial salary if signing Jon Lester was no longer an option, John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle tweets.  Since the Giants have been told they’re out of the hunt for Lester, it’s fair to speculate that they could now turn their attention to Upton.
  • A rumored trade that would’ve sent Upton and Chris Johnson from the Braves to the Giants is about a week old and “not happening,” a source tells CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman.
  • Nationals GM Mike Rizzo spoke to reporters (including Dan Kolko of MASNsports.com) about a number of topics, such as how teams are showing increased interest in Washington’s relief corps over the last day.  “When David Robertson signed, our relief pitchers came more into focus with other clubs,” Rizzo said. “We got a lot of traffic on those guys.”  There has been a particularly large amount of interest in Tyler Clippard.
  • Rizzo met with Ian Desmond‘s agents and expects to meet with Jordan Zimmermann‘s agents before the Winter Meetings are over.  It was reported earlier this week that the Nats would explore an extension with Zimmermann, and Rizzo certainly expressed his eagerness to talk to the right-hander.  “Zim’s part of the furniture here.  He’s drafted, signed, developed and starred with the same organization. We feel he’s one of our own, and we’re certainly eager to discuss things with him,” Rizzo said.  The GM isn’t sure, however, what Zimmermann’s asking price will be in this round of negotiations.
  • The Marlins have interest in Dodgers second baseman Dee Gordon, MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro reports (Twitter link).  It was reported earlier today that L.A. was open to offers for Gordon.
  • The Mets aren’t close to dealing a starter, but if they do swing a trade, the Rangers and Royals are both “viable landing spots,” ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin tweetsJon Niese would command a larger return than Dillon Gee, though Rubin says the Mets would prefer to trade Gee since they feel Niese has more upside and can better help the club contend in 2015.  They would trade Niese for a good enough offer, however (Twitter links).
  • The Rangers, Royals and Giants are Gee’s most serious suitors, the New York Post’s Joel Sherman writes (via Twitter).
  • In regards to the Mets‘ shortstop search, MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo hears that the team is “far more” interested in Jed Lowrie or Stephen Drew than they are with Asdrubal Cabrera.

Rangers Have Discussed Gattis, Upton With Braves

In more trade notes involving Texas and the National League East, the Rangers and Braves have reportedly engaged in discussion of deals involving right-handed power bats, per MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan (Twitter links).

Texas has interest in catcher/outfielder Evan Gattis, per Sullivan. But Atlanta is asking for top pitching prospect Alex Gonzalez in response. Sullivan says that price tag is not going to work for the Rangers.

It would appear that the teams have also chatted about outfielder Justin Upton, though Sullivan says that Texas would be interested in serving as a conduit to deliver Upton to another club. The Rangers would look to achieve pitching in such a deal, he says, but would not be interested in sacrificing top prospects to do so.


NL East Notes: Marlins, Jeter, Upton, Phillies

Despite rumblings to the contrary, Derek Jeter says he’s not making a play to buy the Marlins, writes Christian Red of the New York Daily News.  “You got money for me? A report I’m gonna buy it, who am I buying with? Unless you got money for me,” Jeter said. “You believe everything you read?” More from the NL East..

  • Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times (on Twitter) heard from one AL exec that the Royals have talked to the Braves about outfielder Justin Upton.
  • David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution lays out the case for the Braves trading Upton.  Upton is one year away from free agency and Atlanta wants to build a strong team for 2017 and beyond as they get ready to move into a brand new stadium in Cobb County.
  • Phillies GM Ruben Amaro is being more realistic about the value of his players than he was in July, writes Tyler Kepner of the New York Times. “Teams just don’t want to give up the talent. They’d rather give up the money than the talent. So we have to have an understanding of that, and at the same time we have to identify the guys that are still pretty talented and not take a bath,” Amaro said.  Right now, the Phillies aren’t receiving a ton of trade interest.
  • If the Marlins can’t find the top of the rotation starter they’re looking for, Joe Frisaro of MLB.com suggests that they should instead make a play for Reds closer Aroldis Chapman and build a super bullpen.  With Chapman, Miami could either move Steve Cishek for a starter or a power bat or keep him and use him in the eighth inning, giving them one of the best combos in the National League.