Kansas City Royals Rumors
The Braves are indeed very interested, with financial concerns the main limitation. Meanwhile, the Royals have put in a call on Santana. The Blue Jays and Orioles have standing offers out, Rojas adds.
2:21pm: O'Brien hears from a person connected to the Royals that the Braves may now be making a run at Santana (Twitter link). In addition to Medlen's injury, Brandon Beachy left today's Spring Training start with biceps tightness.
10:17am: The Braves haven't completely ruled out Santana in the event of a serious Medlen injury, writes MLB.com's Mark Bowman, but the financial and draft pick costs are definite factors. Atlanta would very much like to strengthen its crop of top prospects, and sacrificing the No. 26 selection in the draft would go against that thinking.
9:19am: Over the weekend it was reported that Ervin Santana has completely changed course and is now seeking a one-year deal with an eye toward a lucrative multi-year deal next offseason. With one-year offers of $13MM plus incentives and $14MM without incentives from the Orioles and Blue Jays, respectively, there appear to be a pair of clear favorites for Santana.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports provides some updates on the Santana sweepstakes this morning, noting that the Blue Jays' players are lobbying for Santana to come to Toroto. Santana has many friends on the club, including countrymen Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Reyes. One source told Rosenthal that several Jays players got together and texted Santana a picture of themselves holding a poster that read, "Come to Toronto."
One potentially game-changing factor to the Santana market could be the severity of the injury to Braves right-hander Kris Medlen, who left Sunday's Spring Training game with a forearm strain. David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution touched on the topic this morning, wondering if the Braves could consider expanding their budget to bring him into the fold. Rosenthal writes that the Braves will get the results of an MRI on Medlen today. The draft pick loss wouldn't be as big for the Braves as some teams around the league, as Atlanta would surrender the No. 26 selection after already having received the No. 32 selection for losing Brian McCann to free agency. That forfeiture, however, would be the most significant of the specific teams mentioned in Rosenthal's piece.
Rosenthal also has some specifics on recent offers made to Santana; the Orioles' last three-year offer was believed to be in the $27MM range, while the three-year offer from the Twins was in the $30-33MM range. That offer was still on the table as of last night. However, as Rosenthal notes, Santana could earn nearly that much over the next two seasons by taking $14MM or so in 2014 and receiving a qualifying offer following the season, as next year's QO could jump to the $15-16MM range.
The Orioles and Nationals may be based just an hour away from each other, but they're far apart in terms of strength of schedule this year. The Orioles' 2014 schedule is projected to be the toughest in baseball, while the Nationals' is projected to be the weakest, Jeff Sullivan of FanGraphs writes. Unsurprisingly, AL schedules are much tougher than NL schedules, and schedules for AL East teams rate as the toughest of all -- after Baltimore, the other four AL East teams' schedules are the third-, fifth-, sixth- and seventh-toughest. Here are more notes from around the big leagues.
- Sean Manaea is healthy, which could make him a bargain for the Royals, Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star writes. Manaea was widely considered a top-tier draft prospect last year before hip and shoulder issues damaged his stock. He fell to the Royals with the No. 34 overall pick. He's now throwing 93-94 MPH in Royals minor-league spring training.
- Manager Robin Ventura and the White Sox aren't concerned about potential trades, writes Dan Hayes of CSNChicago.com. "Something could come up and that changes but I’m preparing with this group. If something happens then you can roll it and change and go from there. Right now it is what it is here and you have to get your roster together with these guys," Ventura says. Outfielders Dayan Viciedo and Alejandro De Aza have recently been the subjects of trade rumors.
It's been a tumultuous offseason for Alex Castellanos of the Padres, MLB.com's Corey Brock writes. In late October, the Dodgers traded Castellanos to the Red Sox. Two months later, the Rangers claimed him off waivers. Then, the Rangers designated him for assignment in order to make room for Joe Saunders, and the Padres claimed him. "Don't take any pictures with any jerseys on," Castellanos said when asked the offseason had taught him. Here are more notes from around the big leagues.
- A year after joining the Royals as part of the James Shields / Wil Myers trade, Wade Davis is now a reliever, writes Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star. The move is a response to the Royals' loss of Luke Hochevar to Tommy John surgery. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Davis isn't thrilled about the move. "What are you going to do? Say no?" he says. Davis struggled as a starter last season, though, posting a 5.67 ERA in 24 starts, and he's gotten good results as a reliever in the past. The decision could impact Davis' future earnings -- if the Royals don't pick up his $7MM option for 2015, he can become a free agent after the season.
- 2011 Astros third-round draft pick Jack Armstrong Jr. is switching from pitching to first base, MLB.com's Brian McTaggart reports. The Astros paid Armstrong a $750K bonus, but he has not pitched competitively since being drafted, dealing with elbow and shoulder injuries along the way. Now, at 24, he'll try to make the big leagues as a hitter. "The moment I got cleared in September, I started swinging immediately. It's been a good five or six months of hard work," says Armstrong. "It's good I was a two-way guy in college so I was always swinging." Armstrong is the son of former big-league starting pitcher Jack Armstrong.
6:46pm: The Royals are "moving forward" without Santana even if he is available on a one-year pact, GM Dayton Moore tells Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star (via Twitter). "The candidates for our rotation are in-house," said Moore.
6:29pm: Free agent starter Ervin Santana has switched gears and is now looking for a one-year deal, reports FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal (links to Twitter). Santana wants to get signed and into camp as soon as possible, and does not intend to wait to ink a deal until after Opening Day.
Of course, if Santana signs a one-year deal before Opening Day, he could still be made a qualifying offer again next year. That type of scenario was said to be out of the question by Santana's agent, but we learned last night and this morning that Santana's team of representatives was undergoing some changes. It would appear that a change of strategic direction has resulted.
With the new focus on achieving a pillow contract, Santana hopes to land on a team with a strong offense, says Rosenthal. The Blue Jays and Orioles are two teams that could meet that requirement and have had interest, Rosenthal adds. It is not clear whether there is anything connecting those teams specifically to Santana since his shift of plans.
Neither is it clear whether other clubs remain in the mix, or whether Santana's market could expand. Earlier today, there were conflicting reports as to whether the Phillies had (Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, via Twitter) or had not (Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer, via Twitter) inquired about the righty's services. Of course, in theory, many other clubs could potentially have renewed interest in Santana under these changed circumstances.
FRIDAY: Royals manager Ned Yost told reporters, including Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star, that Hochevar will undergo Tommy John surgery and miss the season (Twitter link).
General manager Dayton Moore also spoke to reporters and said the Royals hope to retain Hochevar beyond 2014 (per 610 Sports Radio's Josh Vernier on Twitter): "We wouldn't rule Luke out for the future... We'll hopefully be able to keep him in the organization going forward."
Vernier also quotes Hochevar, who is understandably distressed: "I feel terrible... The toughest part about it is we're primed to win... You want to be a part of that dog pile in September."
WEDNESDAY: The Royals got bad news today when they learned that they will be without right-hander Luke Hochevar until at least late May or early June due to a sprained ulnar collateral ligament, manager Ned Yost tells Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star. Hochevar also has a strain in the musculature surrounding the ligament. He will be shut down entirely for two to three weeks (All links to Twitter).
Yost described a May/June return as a "best-case scenario," indicating that even after being shut down, Hochevar will face at least two months of rehab. As is the case with most UCL injuries, the scare of Tommy John surgery is present.
After struggling for years as a starter, Hochevar enjoyed a dominant season out of the bullpen in 2013. The former No. 1 overall pick pitched to a 1.92 ERA with 10.5 K/9, 2.2 BB/9 and a 35 percent ground-ball rate in 70 1/3 innings of work. The move to the 'pen caused his fastball velocity to jump three miles per hour to 95.5 mph. Hochevar also scrapped his slider and focused primarily on using his fastball and cutter with an occasional sinker and curve mixed in, per Fangraphs' PITCHf/x data.
The timing for the injury could hardly be worse for Hochevar, who agreed to a one-year, $5.21MM contract in his final season of team control before free agency next offseason. Another dominant year in the bullpen could've positioned him for a similar salary over multiple seasons, though as Bob Dutton reported back in December, Yost had mentioned giving Hochevar and Wade Davis one more crack at the rotation (indeed, Hochevar's contract contains $400K of incentives based on games started and games finished).
As McCullough notes, if he's able to return, Hochevar will do so as a reliever. However, even if rest and rehab proves to be successful, teams could be still wary of Hochevar's elbow, driving down his potential earnings. And, because he has just one excellent season under his belt, the injury prevents him from another 20 to 30 innings of proving that he can sustain that performance.
With Hochevar's status now up in the air, Yordano Ventura, Danny Duffy and perhaps Davis could see their chances at a rotation spot improve. Top prospect Kyle Zimmer could enter the mix early in the year as well, though his 2013 season was cut short by a shoulder injury, and the Royals are being cautious with him thus far.
12:47pm: The Royals informed Penny that there wasn't a good chance of him making the roster, and the two sides agreed to part ways so that Penny could seek out a better opportunity, according to MLB Daily Dish's Chris Cotillo (Twitter links).
Kansas City did add Bruce Chen roughly two weeks after agreeing to a minor league deal with Penny, which likely diminished his chances at making the club.
Penny was signed back in January and stood to earn a $1MM base salary with another $1.5MM available via incentives if he made the team. However, the right-hander was hit hard in a pair of Spring Training appearances, yielding seven runs on 13 hits (two homers) and a walk with just one strikeout in four innings of work.
The former National League All-Star hasn't appeared in the Majors since a 28-inning stint with the Giants in 2012, and he's posted just a 5.41 ERA over his past 209 2/3 big league innings. He has a 4.26 ERA with 6.0 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9 in 1899 career innings at the Major League level between the Marlins, Dodgers, Giants, Tigers, Red Sox and Cardinals.
12:38pm: Royals general manager Dayton Moore told reporters, including Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star, that he spoke with Alou today regarding Santana and said that there's still no fit with his club (Twitter link). However, Moore did tell the group that Alou is still representing Santana.
8:01am: Reports last night indicated that Ervin Santana has parted ways with agent Bean Stringfellow, however agent Jay Alou of Proformance (Stringfellow's agency) tweeted that Santana is "still represented by the same person that he fist signed with 15 years ago." This morning, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal calls Santana's representation is "unsettled," adding that a split between the agents is possible, and the players union is involved in the situation (Twitter links). As Rosenthal adds in a third tweet, Alou is referring to himself in the above quote, which doesn't necessarily mean that Stringfellow is still in the picture.
Dionisio Soldevila of ESPN Deportes tweeted last night that Santana had fired Stringfellow and was contemplating negotiating his own deal. ESPN's Buster Olney tweeted shortly after that should Santana go that route, he needs to understand that teams are still very leery of his medical reports and concerned about his elbow. Olney points out that teams are nervous due to the fact that Santana threw more sliders than any pitcher in baseball last year.
Santana, however, pitched through a UCL injury for years without requiring Tommy John surgery, and this past October, esteemed surgeon doctor James Andrews stated, "[Santana] doesn’t need any further treatment for his right elbow partial UCL tear, as on (the) MRI today it appears that it has completely healed." (As reported by Rosenthal.) That, of course, doesn't mean that every team doctor will agree with the assessment, but Andrews' opinion would be considered among the most highly regarded in the industry.
Many have been quick to call Justin Masterson's reported three-year extension proposal to the Indians a bargain, but Dave Cameron of Fangraphs takes a step back and wonders how benevolent Masterson is really being. Cameron admits that he, too, initially considered a three-year, $45MM or four-year, $60MM deal to be a huge value, but he looks at the cognitive bias of "anchoring," in which we subconsciously turn an initial price for one item into an anchor price for others. Cameron argues that rather than comparing Masterson to the statistically similar Homer Bailey, who signed away five free agent years for $95MM, we should look at Masterson's expected value over the next three to four years. Doing so presents the case that Masterson's offer is fair, but hardly a tremendous discount for Cleveland. He adds that the Indians aren't a club that can afford to pay market value for too many wins, so it may not be as much of a no-brainer as many initially believed.
More from the AL Central...
- While he's yet to determine if the Twins have placed a call, Darren Wolfson of 1500ESPN knows that White Sox outfielder Alejandro De Aza has quite a few fans in Minnesota's front office (Twitter link). De Aza would seem a peculiar fit for the Twins in my opinion, given the fact that he has just two years of team control and Minnesota has a number of young outfielders and outfield prospects.
- Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes that while he didn't look like a catcher trying to play third base in practice, that's exactly how Carlos Santana has looked thus far in Cactus League games. Hoynes describes his play as "stiff and uncomfortable," though he notes that Santana has had few chances to this point and could improve by playing consecutive games at the position. For the time being, it appears to be good news for Lonnie Chisenhall, as if Santana doesn't man third, he would DH and serve as a backup at first, catcher and occasionally third.
- Left-hander Blaine Hardy has gone from being released by the Royals last year to a minor league flier for the Tigers to a leading candidate to join Detroit's bullpen this season, writes James Schmel of MLive.com. Hardy posted a 1.67 ERA with 7.8 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9 between Double-A and Triple-A last season, serving as both a starter and reliever. He's allowed one hit in five innings this spring, catching the eye of manager Brad Ausmus and establishing himself as one of the top candidates to fill a long reliever role at the big league level.
The following 40-man roster players have less than five years service time and are out of minor league options. That means they must clear waivers before being sent to the minors, so the team would be at risk of losing them in attempting to do so. I've included players on multiyear deals. This list was compiled through MLBTR's sources. Next, we'll take a look at the AL Central.
Both Carrasco and Outman will be on the Indians' pitching staff, noted Tony Lastoria of FOX Sports Ohio on Monday. Carrasco is battling a few others for the fifth starter job, but if he doesn't earn it he'll go to the pen.
Hayes seems to be the favorite to back up Salvador Perez at catcher, as 24-year-old Francisco Pena can get more seasoning at Triple-A. Veteran Ramon Hernandez, signed to a minor league deal, is also in the mix for the Royals' backup catcher job.
Dyson is expected to make the team as the center field backup for Lorenzo Cain, wrote Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star last week. That leaves Maxwell and Peguero battling for the fifth outfield spot. Maxwell would seem to have a leg up, having played well upon joining the team in a trade last July. His right-handed bat might be of more use to the Royals, who avoided arbitration with Maxwell in a January agreement about a week before acquiring Peguero.
The Royals seem to have room for five infielders, and Blair Kerkhoff of the Kansas City Star wrote last week that Valencia is likely to make the team. That would leave the team without a reserve middle infielder behind Omar Infante and Alcides Escobar. If the Royals do surprise and find a way to include a reserve middle infielder, it would be a competition of Ciriaco, Christian Colon, and Johnny Giavotella.
Kelly is in good standing as a super-utility man. There appears to be one bullpen job up for grabs, with pitchers such as Luke Putkonen, Justin Miller, Blaine Hardy, and Casey Crosby (if healthy) among those battling with Reed. The Tigers claimed Reed off waivers from the Marlins about a year ago, and will probably need to put him in their bullpen to start the season to retain him.
Plouffe and Swarzak are locks to make the club. Plouffe figures to man third base on an everyday basis now that Miguel Sano is out for the season, and Swarzak was among the league's best swingmen in 2013.
Diamond, Deduno and Worley are in the mix for the fifth spot in the rotation, and each can make their case based on historical context. Diamond was the club's best starter in 2012, Deduno has outperformed him since, and Worley was a key component of the Ben Revere trade just one offseason ago before a disastrous 2013 dropped his stock. The trio also has deal with top prospect Kyle Gibson, who is fully recovered from Tommy John surgery. Any of the three could end up in the bullpen, but at least one seems likely to go.
Presley has the inside track to make the club either as the Opening Day center fielder -- should Aaron Hicks struggle in Spring Training -- or as a fourth outfielder.
Escobar's versatility is appealing to the Twins, and his case for the Opening Day roster has been strengthened now that starter Pedro Florimon had his appendix removed two weeks ago. Florimon is fielding grounders pain-free as of yesterday, per MLB.com's Rhett Bollinger, but his Opening Day status is up in the air. Former Twin Jason Bartlett is in camp as a non-roster invitee and could serve as competition.
Parmelee is a former first-rounder that hasn't hit since a 2011 September call-up. The now-26-year-old demolished Triple-A pitching in 2012 but has batted just .228/.302/.364 over his past 543 PAs in the Majors. He didn't fare much better at Triple-A in 2013. With Oswaldo Arcia and Josh Willingham at the outfield corners, Joe Mauer at first base and Jason Kubel likely to make the club as a DH/corner outfielder, Parmelee's best hope is to lock down a bench role. His experience at first base could give him an edge for that spot.
The Sox seem to only have one spot open for a third baseman at this time, though that could change if they trade an outfielder like Dayan Viciedo or Alejandro De Aza. As it stands, Gillaspie is competing for third base with Jeff Keppinger and rookie Matt Davidson. It would be sensible to start Davidson at Triple-A, and it's possible lingering effects of Keppinger's September shoulder surgery could cause him to start the year on the DL.
Boggs and Belisario seem locks for the bullpen after signing as free agents, though Belisario has yet to arrive in camp due to visa issues. A few of the team's relievers are dealing with nagging injuries, but if everyone is healthy and Belisario is in camp as Opening Day approaches, there would seem to be one spot for either Veal (a lefty) or Cleto. Veal is the favorite over Cleto, who joined the team in a waiver claim just last week.
Steve Adams contributed to this post.
In his latest piece for FOX Sports, Ken Rosenthal wonders how the Indians could possibly say no to Justin Masterson's proposed extension. Rosenthal's sources tell him Masterson is seeking a three-year extension on top of his current deal at roughly market value in terms of average annual salary (Rosenthal speculates $17-18MM). Few Cleveland stars in any sport express a willingness to take a discount to stay, adds Rosenthal, and it would send a poor message to fans and the Indians' players to make the decision not to pay Masterson. Here are some more highlights from a jam-packed Rosenthal column...
- Outfielder Billy Burns might be the most intriguing player in Athletics camp, writes Rosenthal. Acquired from the Nationals in exchange for Jerry Blevins, Burns was attractive to the A's because he was one of just three players in all of minor league baseball with more than 50 stolen bases and an OBP north of .400 last season. Burns has swiped seven bags in eight Spring Training games thus far, and scouts have raved about his instincts as a leadoff man, says Rosenthal.
- Mike Olt has looked good thus far in camp with the Cubs, and the team's preference is for him to win the third base job out of Spring Training rather than head back to Triple-A. Doing so would allow the club to start Christian Villanueva at third in Triple-A and Kris Bryant at the hot corner in Double-A. Rosenthal points out that if Olt were to rebound from the concussion/vision issues that plagued him last season, the Cubs' haul for Matt Garza would look all the more impressive. Chicago also plucked C.J. Edwards from the Rangers, who enters the 2014 season ranked as the game's No. 26 prospect, per Baseball America.
- Brewers first baseman Juan Francisco could be squeezed out again and find himself on the move, writes Rosenthal. Francisco is out of options, and the Brew Crew could prefer to take Lyle Overbay as a potential pairing with Mark Reynolds due to Overbay's superior glove. Rosenthal speculates that the Tigers could be a good fit for Francisco, as they have just four players capable of hitting left-handed on their roster. MLBTR's Tim Dierkes ran down all of the NL Central's out-of-options players yesterday.
- It's been reported in recent days that the Royals and James Shields aren't likely to work out an extension, and sources tell Rosenthal the same thing. A Masterson extension would be a clear benefit to Shields, as Shields would have less competition on next year's open market. MLBTR recently examined what Shields might earn as a free agent next offseason.