Weekly email list
- Cubs Designate Russell, Soriano; Select Contracts Of Cahill, Berry; Recall Baez
- Braves Promote Hector Olivera
- Royals Acquire Jonny Gomes
- Giants Acquire Alejandro De Aza
- Dodgers To Acquire Justin Ruggiano
- Cubs Acquire Austin Jackson
- Giants Still Discussing De Aza, Looking At Infielders
- Blue Jays To Name Mark Shapiro As Team President
- Mets Acquire Addison Reed From Diamondbacks
- Mets Claim Marc Rzepczynski On Revocable Waivers, In Talks With Padres
Trade Rumors Apps
- AL Central Notes: Johnson, Berrios, Floyd, Indians
- Phillies Notes: Amaro, Mackanin, Franco
- Marlins Begin Making Front Office Changes
- Padres Designate Chris Rearick For Assignment
- Minor MLB Transactions: 9/2/15
- Extension Candidate: Justin Turner
- Poll: Best August 31st Outfield Addition
- AL East Notes: Bundy, Eveland, Yankees, Craig
- Front Office Notes: Jennings, Mariners, Beinfest, Scioscia
- Notable September Call-Ups
- Central Notes: Arrieta, Berrios, Kirby
- Nationals’ Aaron Barrett To Undergo Elbow Surgery
- Reds Designate Dylan Axelrod For Assignment
- Angels Designate Alfredo Marte, Drew Rucinski
- Giants Designate Justin Maxwell For Assignment
Rumors by team
- Angels Rumors
- Astros Rumors
- Athletics Rumors
- Blue Jays Rumors
- Braves Rumors
- Brewers Rumors
- Cardinals Rumors
- Cubs Rumors
- Diamondbacks Rumors
- Dodgers Rumors
- Giants Rumors
- Indians Rumors
- Mariners Rumors
- Marlins Rumors
- Mets Rumors
- Nationals Rumors
- Orioles Rumors
- Padres Rumors
- Phillies Rumors
- Pirates Rumors
- Rangers Rumors
- Rays Rumors
- Red Sox Rumors
- Reds Rumors
- Rockies Rumors
- Royals Rumors
- Tigers Rumors
- Twins Rumors
- White Sox Rumors
- Yankees Rumors
Kansas City Royals Rumors
TODAY: Atlanta will pay half of Gomes’ salary the rest of the way, or about $380K, per Heyman (via Twitter).
YESTERDAY, 8:42pm: The Royals have officially acquired outfielder Jonny Gomes from the Braves, as Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports first reported on Twitter. Atlanta will send cash along with the veteran and will receive minor league infielder Luis Valenzuela in return, as Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported (Twitter links).
Gomes, 34, is a highly-regarded clubhouse presence and noted lefty killer at the plate. Though he’s seen his power numbers drop off this year, and owns only a 93 OPS+ overall, Gomes has still slashed a productive .247/.412/.466 against opposing southpaws.
The Braves signed Gomes to a one-year, $4MM free agent contract this winter. It includes a $3MM club option that would vest at different amounts based on various plate appearance thresholds. With Gomes likely to see only part-time duty, it’s unlikely that he’ll meet the minimum of 325 plate appearances (which would cause the option to vest at $3MM).
Kansas City is all but certain to win the AL Central at this point, so the move was presumably made with the post-season in mind. It isn’t hard to imagine Gomes seeing some important at bats in potential playoff matchups against pitchers such as David Price, Dallas Keuchel, and Cole Hamels.
It remains to be seen, though, what kind of alignment the Royals are pondering. Obviously, Alex Gordon and Lorenzo Cain will receive regular playing time so long as they are healthy. Among the club’s other righty outfield bats, neither starter Alex Rios nor fill-in Paulo Orlando have done much against left-handed pitching.
In Valenzuela, who just turned 22, the Braves will receive a player who reached the Class A level for the first time this year. Over 184 plate appearances, he’s slashed .339/.368/.483 with three home runs and eight stolen bases.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
The Red Sox didn’t go by MLB’s minority hiring rules when they interviewed only Dave Dombrowski for the president of baseball ops role but they have been instructed to do so for the GM job, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes. If the Red Sox take the step of hiring a minority GM candidate, Cafardo suggests that Ken Williams would be a strong choice if he chooses to leave Chicago. Here’s more from today’s column..
- The Rangers were very interested in acquiring Austin Jackson “a few days ago,” but nothing came of those talks, Cafardo writes. Jackson, 28, cleared waivers last week and was said to be generating interest, though it appears that no one wanted to take the remaining ~$1.7MM salary off the Mariners‘ hands.
- Former Red Sox GM Ben Cherington is in play for the Brewers job, a major league source tells Cafardo. “Despite his last-place finishes he’s seen as a team builder, especially when it comes to farm systems,” said the source. The Angels, Mariners, and Phillies are also thought to be possibilities for Cherington.
- The Yankees have been blocked in every attempt to add to their pitching, both out of the bullpen and in the starting rotation. Baseball sources tell Cafardo that GM Brian Cashman doesn’t seem optimistic about his odds of pulling anything off. The Mets have been blocked from adding a reliever as well.
- The Royals want a backup catcher for the playoffs just in case something happens to Salvador Perez. KC turned down the opportunity to land A.J. Pierzynski from the Braves, Cafardo writes, but they’re still looking for an affordable left-handed hitting backstop. Some KC scouts like the Red Sox’s Ryan Hanigan, but he hits right-handed and has a $3.7MM salary next year with an option for 2017.
- Unsurprisingly, Cafardo hears that the Rangers are looking for offense, the Twins are looking for relief help, and the Blue Jays want to add to their bullpen. However, a deal for Toronto doesn’t seem likely at this time.
- Cafardo writes that the Nationals, Padres, Red Sox, Mariners, Reds, Orioles, Indians, and Tigers are expected to be quite active this winter.
Full Story | 17 Comments | Categories: A.J. Pierzynski | Atlanta Braves | Austin Jackson | Baltimore Orioles | Boston Red Sox | Cincinnati Reds | Cleveland Indians | Detroit Tigers | Kansas City Royals | Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim | Milwaukee Brewers | Minnesota Twins | New York Mets | New York Yankees | Philadelphia Phillies | Ryan Hanigan | San Diego Padres | Seattle Mariners | Texas Rangers | Toronto Blue Jays | Washington Nationals
The Blue Jays‘ offseason trade for Josh Donaldson could turn out to be an historic one if Donaldson wins the AL MVP award, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports writes. The last time a team traded a player in the offseason who turned out to be the following season’s MVP was 1984, when the Phillies traded reliever Willie Hernandez to the Tigers during Spring Training. Here’s more on the American League.
- Mariners president Kevin Mather says he waited too long to fire GM Jack Zduriencik, Art Thiel of Sportspress Northwest writes. “I’m not a baseball guy,” says Mather. “I kept waiting for them to rattle off eight out of 10, 12 out of 15, to get on a roll. I maybe dragged my feet . . . I waited too long to start asking myself tough questions about why we’re not having more success.” A year ago, Mather rewarded Zduriencik’s for the Mariners’ 71-59 record by signing him to a two-year extension. Now, Mather seems to have changed his mind entirely.
- Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon is saddened by Zduriencik’s departure, Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times writes. “Jack was very dedicated to this organization, and it’s always tough when you lose a family member. I consider Jack a family member,” McClendon says. “It’s just been one of those years where a lot of things just have not turned out the way we thought it would.” Mather has said that he plans to recommend to Zduriencik’s successor that McClendon and his staff remain in their current jobs, although those decisions will ultimately be up to the new GM.
- Manager Ned Yost says Royals outfielder Alex Gordon appears likely to return to the team this week, Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star tweets. McCullough suggests Gordon could return on Tuesday. The star left fielder has been out since early July with a groin strain. The Royals have been just fine without him, and they’re currently 30 games above .500 and 13 games up on the second-place Twins in the AL Central, but Gordon’s return should provide them with a further boost.
ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick looks at the future of the Phillies‘ front office, noting that industry insiders mention Royals assistant GM J.J. Picollo and former Red Sox GM Ben Cherington as possible successors to Ruben Amaro Jr. in the event that president-to-be Andy MacPhail makes a change. Interim president Pat Gillick, who’s stepping down after the season, tells Crasnick that he’s not sure if he’ll remain with the club in some capacity. Though the Phillies are one of the worst clubs in baseball this season and have long been on the downswing, there’s hope in the future due to Maikel Franco, Aaron Nola, Odubel Herrera, shortstop prospect J.P. Crawford and others, to say nothing of a favorable payroll and television deal. “That organization is a gold mine,” one rival exec opined to Crasnick. “Look at the ballpark. Look at the spring training facility. Look at the television deal. This is a goose that’s going to lay a golden egg. No wonder Andy MacPhail came out of retirement.”
Elsewhere in the NL East…
- Jonathan Papelbon has thrown just eight innings since being acquired by the Nationals a month ago, and James Wagner of the Washington Post spoke to the D.C. closer about how he handles long bouts of inactivity. “For me, it’s about mentally staying prepared,” said Papelbon. “Staying mentally focused on the task at hand and not losing sight of that even though you’re not pitching. It’s easy to get out of that mode.” Papelbon says he feels he’s adjusted well to his new team and that his lack of usage is part of the “ebb and flow” of a season, Wagner writes. However, plenty have been critical about manager Matt Williams’ bullpen usage and his reluctance to use his top relievers in anything other than traditional save/hold situations.
- Nationals GM Mike Rizzo tells the Post’s Thomas Boswell that August has been his “worst month ever.” Rizzo notes to Boswell that the Nats have a group of star players that combined for 28.5 wins above replacement in 2014 but are collectively negative in 2015. “That’s a swing of 29 wins,” said Rizzo, likely in reference to struggles from Anthony Rendon, Ryan Zimmerman, Stephen Strasburg, Doug Fister, Ian Desmond and Jayson Werth (among others). Rizzo referenced that swing as a means of defending Williams, stating: “It’s injuries. It’s coming back without your timing and not hitting for a while. It is bad years [for good players]. It’s everything. Twenty-nine lost wins [in player production] — and that’s on the manager?”
- Within his piece, Boswell also notes that the Nationals are unlikely to pursue any top starting pitchers this winter and that Drew Storen wants a trade “that he’ll almost certainly get this winter.” Storen, of course, was reportedly unhappy to be displaced from his ninth-inning role by Papelbon in the midst of a strong season.
- Jose Fernandez‘s most recent bullpen session for the Marlins was described as a “wow” by manager Dan Jennings, writes Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald. Jennings called mid-September a realistic return date for Fernandez, whom the Marlins previously feared might not pitch again in 2015.
- Mike Morse spoke to the Herald’s Barry Jackson about his disappointing tenure with the Marlins, expressing that he wishes he’d have gotten a longer leash to sort things out at the plate. “I came out really bad [but] I wish they would have given me more at-bats just to prove myself,” said Morse. “…When you sign as a free agent, you expect to play on that team those years and you expect to get at least some time to play. But I got this opportunity to come to an amazing ball club [Pittsburgh]. It’s a gift and a curse.” Morse said he was very appreciative that owner Jeffrey Loria and president David Samson took the time to personally call and inform him of his trade out of Miami, however. Morse is hitting a much-improved .310/.394/.379 with the Pirates, albeit in a minuscule sample of 33 plate appearances.
This winter, outfielder Alex Gordon appears likely to start a new chapter of his career, and his impending foray into the free agent market could result in his departure from Kansas City. The cases of Gordon and Cardinals outfielder Jason Heyward will be worth watching in part for what they’ll tell us about teams’ willingness to offer big contracts to players whose value derives in part from outstanding corner outfield defense.
Gordon’s current four-year, $37.5MM deal with the Royals appears likely to end after the season. He has a player option for 2015 that was initially valued at $12.5MM, but has now climbed to $14MM due to performance escalators. Last season, Gordon said that he intended to exercise it, although he has since backed down somewhat from that stance, and he told the Kansas City Star last spring that he and the Royals were not discussing an extension.
Gordon seems to love playing in Kansas City and the Royals seem to want to keep him, and the recent resurgence of fan interest in the team could give them a bigger budget with which to do so. Gordon will be 32 in February, however, and he’ll likely receive long-term offers from other organizations that could carry him into his mid to late 30s. That’s a risk the small-market Royals might not be willing to take, particularly since they haven’t done so already.
Gordon has been out since early July with a groin strain, although he has begun a rehab assignment and should be able to play in September and in the playoffs. When he returns, he’ll continue a 2015 offensive season that has been among the best in his career so far. He’s hitting .279/.394/.457 in 312 plate appearances, demonstrating a typically well-rounded offensive game that features average, power and plate discipline.
Gordon has also been a key part of the Royals’ outstanding team defense. His defensive numbers are down somewhat from last season, although they’re still very strong. UZR says Gordon has been 6.9 runs better than the typical left fielder this year, down from the 25 runs above average he accumulated in 2014, although in twice as much playing time. Defensive Runs Saved, meanwhile, credits Gordon with four runs this year, as compared to 27 last year.
Overall, Gordon still rates as a terrific defensive left fielder, and it would perhaps be unwise to read too much into a one-year drop in his fielding numbers. His defense is, however, likely to decline during his next contract as he slows down and loses range. We might already be seeing signs of that this season, in which he’s only stolen one base after swiping at least ten in all of the previous four years.
Nonetheless, Gordon is at least as worthy of a big contract as, say, Shin-Soo Choo was when he signed a nine-figure deal with Texas after a big year in Cincinnati. Gordon will be a half a year older than Choo was at the time of his deal, and he doesn’t have the .423 on-base percentage Choo did in 2013. But Choo had rated very poorly on defense in the two seasons leading to his contract, whereas Gordon is markedly above average even in an off year. As a group, fast and athletic outfielders tend to age fairly well, maintaining much of their offensive value even as their speed and defense decline. So while Gordon seems very likely to decline over the course of his next deal, he appears likely to remain productive as a hitter.
While next offseason’s class of hitters isn’t particularly strong overall, it does include a good class of outfielders. The three top names (Heyward, Justin Upton, Yoenis Cespedes) are all younger than Gordon. Heyward, who has the advantage of heading into the free agent market at age 26, seems likely to land an enormous contract, and so should Upton, who will be 28. Cespedes, meanwhile, has boosted his stock with a terrific season, and MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes suggested in a recent email that Cespedes was a candidate to receive a seven-figure deal.
Heyward, Upton and Cespedes rank Nos. 2, 3 and 6 in Dierkes’ latest Free Agent Power Rankings, with Gordon at No. 7. As Dierkes notes, Gordon’s age likely caps his next contract at six years. Choo, of course, got seven, but perhaps last year’s market suggests teams are somewhat less willing to hand out such long contracts. Pablo Sandoval got five guaranteed years last winter and Hanley Ramirez four, and even those contracts, like Choo’s, look unfortunate now.
Gordon’s defensive ability gives him an edge on those players, however. He’s a better hitter than Sandoval was as well. It remains to be seen whether Gordon will be able to top Sandoval’s guaranteed $95MM, but he should be able to at least get close. Before the season, Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star pointed to Hunter Pence‘s five-year, $90MM deal with the Giants as another potential template. If a team were willing to offer a sixth year, Gordon’s contract could easily top $100MM.
It will also be worth watching to see if Gordon takes a somewhat smaller, or shorter, offer to stay with the Royals. It’s no shock that the Casey Close client has gone back on his very surprising announcement that he planned to pick up his team-friendly 2016 option, but that Gordon said that in the first place suggests strongly that his preference would be to remain in Kansas City. The Royals might not be able to offer the kind of big-money deal Gordon could get elsewhere, and they’ll have a number of difficult decisions in the coming years as players like Lorenzo Cain, Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas all approach free agency themselves. But they perhaps could offer enough to convince Gordon to stay.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Recently-acquired Royals utilityman extraordinaire Ben Zobrist says that he’s very much open to a return to Kansas City, MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan reports. “Certainly, this had been one of the teams I liked the look of,” he said. “And now, since I’ve been here, it’s a place I want to stay longer. Being here has certainly done nothing but make this [team] go up on my list.” Of course, the versatile and still-productive 34-year-old figures to be as widely pursued on the winter’s free agent market as he was at this year’s trade deadline. Zobrist was already playing well before the trade, but has slashed an outstanding .357/.446/.600 in his first 83 plate appearances with his new club.
Here’s more from Kansas City and the rest of the AL Central:
- The Royals will hand the ball to Kris Medlen for his first start with the club on Monday, Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star tweets. Medlen, 29, has returned nicely after a long layoff for multiple Tommy John surgeries, tossing 14 1/3 innings of 2.51 ERA ball with 14 strikeouts against five walks. His average fastball velocity is as good as ever. Medlen is owed just $5.5MM next year and can be controlled with a $10MM option ($1MM buyout) in 2017. So far, that’s looking like a nice risk for the Royals.
- Indians president Mark Shapiro declined to comment on recent reports indicating that he could be a candidate to take over the Blue Jays‘ presidency, Zack Meisel of the Plain Dealer reports. The long-time Cleveland executive, still just 48 years old, could conceivably be enticed by the possibility of gaining “power and resources,” the Plain Dealer’s Paul Hoynes writes in an interesting piece.
- There was a creeping sense of suspicion when he was not approached to discuss a new deal over the summer, former Tigers GM (and newly-minted Red Sox president of baseball operations) Dave Dombrowski tells MLB Network Radio on Sirius XM (audio link). Dombrowski maintained, however, that he remains unaware what precisely led Detroit to release him from its contract when it did.
- Just-added Tigers lefty Daniel Norris could end up missing the rest of the year with an oblique injury, Chris Iott of MLive.com reports. Manager Brad Ausmus says that Norris is likely to miss at least a month. The 22-year-old, added as the key piece of the David Price trade, figures to be a key piece of the Tigers rotation next year and for the foreseeable future. He recently joined the MLBTR Podcast to discuss that deal and his approach to the game.
Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com looks in depth at the still-developing front office market. There’s “no evidence” that the Mariners went after Dave Dombrowski, he says, and it remains entirely unclear what Seattle will look to do over the next several months. Likewise, there are a number of dugout swaps that could go down, per Heyman, who says as many as ten skippers are “on the hot seat.”
The piece is loaded with analysis and notes, but here are some of the most notable bits of hot stove information:
- Cubs infielder Starlin Castro was placed on trade waivers recently, though it’s not yet known whether he’s cleared. Castro has shifted to a utility role for Chicago and is still owed $38MM, but is obviously a significant talent and is just 25 years old. While the Cubs now seem determined to go with Addison Russell at short in the near term and the long term, an August trade of Castro still seems unlikely.
- Braves outfielder Jonny Gomes has cleared waivers and can freely be dealt. He’s playing on a $4MM salary this year and can be controlled in 2016 through a $3MM option. The 34-year-old doesn’t have a terribly impressive overall batting line, and has seen his power output drop, but is still slashing .231/.409/.385 against opposing lefties.
- The Royals are “starting to think about” approaching Eric Hosmer to discuss an extension. He is already signed to a $8.25MM salary next year, and has one more year of arb control thereafter. Buying up additional years will not be easy or cheap for Kansas City: Hosmer is in the midst of a breakout .315/.379/.484 campaign, is just 25 years old, and is a client of Scott Boras.
The Royals have agreed to terms with left-hander Wandy Rodriguez and right-hander Joba Chamberlain on minor league deals, the team announced (via Twitter). Robert Murray of Baseball Essential tweeted yesterday that Rodriguez was joining the Royals. Rodriguez is represented by WMG, while Chamberlain is represented by Excel Sports Management.
Rodriguez, 36, posted a 4.90 ERA over 86 1/3 innings with the Rangers this season before being released by the team a few weeks ago. ERA indicators (4.41 SIERA, 4.30 FIP, 4.35 xFIP) indicate that Rodriguez’s 4.90 ERA is perhaps a bit inflated by his .328 BABIP. The southpaw owned a 3.20 ERA through his first 11 starts with Texas before his performance dipped, lowlighted by a pair of particularly rough outings against the A’s and Yankees (15 ER in a combined five innings).
Though he’ll currently be slated as minor league depth, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Rodriguez promoted to Kansas City’s rotation. Rodriguez’s modest 1.0 fWAR for 2015 tops every Royals starter except for Johnny Cueto and Edinson Volquez, so the lefty could be an option if the Royals want a change from the inconsistent Yordano Ventura or the struggling Jeremy Guthrie. As MLBTR’s Steve Adams noted at the time of Rodriguez’s release, the Royals had a need for a veteran depth arm given their recent loss of Jason Vargas to Tommy John surgery.
Chamberlain posted a 4.09 ERA, 6.1 K/9 and a 3.00 K/BB rate over 22 bullpen innings for the Tigers this season before he was released in July. He signed a minor league deal with the Blue Jays but opted out on Friday after a brief but rough stint at Triple-A Buffalo. Chamberlain may be little more than a pure depth signing for K.C. given how the Royals already boast perhaps the game’s best bullpen.
The Phillies actually preferred the Astros offer for starter Cole Hamels, but the lefty ultimately used his no-trade protection to block the trade, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports in his latest video. Included in the rejected deal were outfield prospect Brett Phillips and pitcher Josh Hader, both of whom went to the Brewers in the Carlos Gomez trade. The Astros may have been willing to guarantee Hamels’ fourth year, but he ultimately decided against the option.
- The Royals will have a tough time re-signing several key players. Lorenzo Cain might be the easiest, but he’ll first want to see how Jason Heyward performs on the free agent market. While Heyward is four years younger than Cain, the average annual value “could be instructive” per Rosenthal. Cain is under control for two more seasons. Meanwhile, Alex Gordon can opt out after this season, and he looks like a lock to do so. Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas, both clients of Scott Boras, are also under club control for two seasons.
- Cardinals assistant GM Mike Girsch was a candidate for the Padres GM job opening last year. That posting was eventually filled by A.J. Preller. Girsch may be considered for other top jobs, but the Cardinals hacking scandal may put a damper on his market.
- Chase Utley will use his no-trade rights to pick his next team. Per Rosenthal, Utley may not make an obvious decision. For example, he may or may not be interested in playing for his home town Giants. As was reported repeatedly over the past few days, Utley will seek to find a home where he’ll continue to play regularly both this season and next.