Justin Upton Rumors

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.

Braves Notes: J. Upton, Johnson, Gattis, Pastornicky

Here’s the latest news on the Braves out of San Diego:

  • Echoing the prior report, president of baseball operations John Hart says that he will keep both Upton and Gattis unless he gets what he is looking for, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets. The club still has the option of attempting to compete by keeping them and adding another starter and a second baseman.
  • Teams in discussions with the Braves now feel they might be likely to keep Gattis, ESPN’s Buster Olney tweets.
  • The Braves are now packaging Justin Upton and Chris Johnson in trade talks with teams, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today (via Twitter).

Earlier Updates

  • Atlanta is fielding interest on Upton from the Orioles, Rangers, and Padres, Bowman reports (Twitter links).
  • When the Royals asked about Gattis several weeks back, the Braves asked for young righty Yordano Ventura in return. Needless to say, that seems to have been a non-starter.
  • The Braves “seem ready to be aggressive,” sources from competitors tell MLB.com’s Mark Bowman (Twitter links). Justin Upton and Evan Gattis remain the two most talked-about trade targets, but infielder Tyler Pastornicky and righty Anthony Varvaro “could also be included in talks,” per Bowman. Pastornicky is a 24-year-old infielder who could figure into Atlanta’s plans at second if he is kept. Varvaro, 30, has been a fixture in the Braves pen over the last several years.
  • While there remain several teams that are good potential matches on Upton, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution tweets that the Padres might be the best given their supply of young, controllable pitching. A note from Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports earlier today also suggested a viable connection between those clubs on Upton.
  • While there is general agreement that Upton is a more valuable commodity than was the previously-traded Jason Heyward, teams remain hesitant to beat the return for the latter, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports. There is a general sense that the package given up by the Cardinals, headlined by Shelby Miller, may have outstripped Heyward’s value.

NL Notes: Giants, Braves, Mets, Andrus, Nationals

GM Brian Sabean says the Giants won’t have Buster Posey replace Pablo Sandoval at third base, and they continue to view him as a backstop, MLB.com’s Chris Haft writes. “He’s a franchise player, a franchise catcher,” Sabean says, adding that Sandoval, who recently signed with the Red Sox, was a key presence in the Giants’ clubhouse. “He brought a lot of energy. He loved playing the game. He’ll be missed on and off the field,” Sabean says. The Giants will continue to look for a third baseman and left fielder, but Sabean expects they might do so through trades and not through free agent signings. Here are more notes from the National League.

  • Braves president of baseball operations John Hart told MLB.com’s Mark Bowman (via Twitter) that a few teams have shown interest in Justin Upton and Evan Gattis. Hart expects things to heat up once some key free agents sign.
  • The Braves do not have any trade talks at a “serious stage,” tweets David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. According to Hart, the club has spent more time talking with free agents, particularly second basemen and starting pitchers.
  • We heard earlier tonight that the Mets and Rangers have engaged in trade talks. Texas is looking for starting pitching, which New York has in abundance. However, the Mets aren’t high on Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus, reports Marc Carig of Newsday (via Twitter). Presumably, the Mets aren’t keen on the eight-years and $120MM owed to Andrus. Another shortstop option, prospect Luis Sardinas, looks more like a utility fielder to the Mets. They don’t think he’s a long term solution at shortstop.
  • Thanks to Anthony Rendon‘s flexibility, the Nationals can look to acquire a second or third baseman to fill out their roster, writes Mark Zuckerman of Nats Insider. The club has kept in touch with free agent Asdrubal Cabrera and is exploring the trade market. Danny Espinosa is the current in-house option at second base.

Rangers Interested In Evan Gattis

6:43pm: The Braves are not looking to trade Gattis, O’Brien reiterates (via Twitter). For a deal to happen, “a team would have to blow their doors off.” It’s unclear what would constitute that level of offer, but a package with more than one of the below prospects would seem to fit the bill.

5:54pm: The Braves aren’t eager to trade Gattis, tweets David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. However, the Rangers could offer multiple names from among Jake Thompson, Alex Gonzalez, outfielder Nomar Mazara, or others.

5:32pm: The Rangers are showing interest in Braves catcher Evan Gattis, reports Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. The Rangers have been repeatedly linked to Braves outfielder Justin Upton, but Gattis makes more sense for Texas. Unlike Upton, who is a free agent after the season, Gattis is under club control for another four seasons. While most teams prefer to think of him as an outfielder or designated hitter, he’s a good enough catcher to fill a part time role in 2015.

Grant mentions a few of the Rangers’ top prospects as targets for Atlanta. Texas is unwilling to offer right-handed pitchers Jake Thompson or Alex Gonzalez in a trade for Upton since he’s a short term patch. Ostensibly, they may be on the table for Gattis since he’s a long term solution.

Ultimately, a deal is still a “long-shot from being even a long-shot.” If the Rangers do acquire Gattis, his cheap salary could allow them to more aggressive pursue mid-tier free agents like Justin Masterson.


Orioles Notes: Upton, Young, Breslow

Orioles Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Dan Duquette addressed the media this afternoon.  Here are the highlights..

  • Duquette says the Orioles have not talked to the Braves about Justin Upton, as Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com tweets.  A report earlier today indicated that Atlanta is fielding interest from the O’s as well as the Rangers and Padres.
  • Duquette expects to meet with Delmon Young‘s agent in the next few days, tweets Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com.   The Orioles are reportedly trying to bring back Young on a one-year deal, but they may be open to including an option.
  • For what it’s worth, Duquette grinned when asked about his potential interest in left-hander Craig Breslow, according to Kubatko (via Twitter).
  • Even though there has been plenty of interest, Duquette says he would be reluctant to trade a starter, Ghiroli tweets.
  • Duquette indicated that he’s looking for a right-handed bat and a left-handed outfielder/DH, according to Kubatko (on Twitter).
  • When asked if the rumors of the Blue Jays’ interest in him would hinder the O’s efforts this week and throughout the offseason, Duquette responded “I would hope not,” according to Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun (via Twitter).
  • Duquette says there’s a better chance right now that the O’s will sign a free agent than make a trade, Kubatko tweets.