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
- 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
- Rangers Designate Roman Mendez For Assignment
- Mets Outright Vic Black
- Cubs Designate Russell, Soriano; Select Contracts Of Cahill, Berry; Recall Baez
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Kendrys Morales Rumors
For his latest notes column, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports spoke with Diamondbacks GM Dave Stewart about the possibility of trading Mark Trumbo this summer — a notion which Stewart seems to strongly oppose. “We know there’s interest in Trumbo,” said Stewart. “…With all of our players, if you overwhelm me with something, I’ve got to listen. I guess most people would say the trade deadline is where we’ll find the best value. But at this moment, Mark Trumbo is my guy. He gives us something in our lineup that none of our other guys do other than Goldschmidt – a guy who can hit the ball out of the ballpark.” However, as Rosenthal points out, Trumbo is controllable only for one season beyond the 2015 campaign and will be bringing big power numbers to his final arbitration case just one year after landing a $6.9MM salary. Trumbo, hitting .273/.314/.533 with nine homers, will undoubtedly be expensive. And, the team has Jake Lamb nearing a return from the DL, and his return to third base would push Yasmany Tomas to the outfield. A trade does seem like something that the D-Backs will have to consider, though they could always move a different piece or option Tomas back to Triple-A. He’s hitting well, however, despite a lack of home runs.
A few more highlights from Rosenthal’s latest work…
- Randal Grichuk‘s importance to the Cardinals is only growing, Rosenthal writes. While he’s the type of bat that could find himself mentioned in trade rumors as the team looks to upgrade potential areas of need, Rosenthal wonders if the team can afford to part with Grichuk. The aging Matt Holliday is under control through 2017, but Jon Jay and Peter Bourjos are free agents after 2016, and Stephen Piscotty isn’t hitting as well as they’d hoped in the minors. Jason Heyward will be a free agent at season’s end and hasn’t hit at the level the Cards had hoped when they acquired him.
- Rosenthal also spoke with Royals GM Dayton Moore about the team’s decision to sign Kendrys Morales to a two-year deal this winter. As he notes, many were surprised to see Morales land a $17MM commitment after a terrible 2014 season — you can include yours truly among those who did a double-take upon seeing the contract details — but Moore and his staff saw plenty to like in Morales. “Makeup, character, his desire to play, his professionalism, the way he competes in the batter’s box,” said Moore upon being asked what drew the Royals to Morales. Special assistants Luis Medina and Jim Fregosi Jr. were both high on Morales as well. Each felt that he still had good bat speed but faced a difficult challenge in jumping back into the Majors last June after a long layoff at a time when pitchers were peaking.
- Marlins first baseman Justin Bour looks at this point to be one of the better bargains in the history of the minor league portion of the Rule 5 Draft, writes Rosenthal. As he notes, Baseball America has written that “almost no future big leaguers” come from the minor league portion of the Rule 5, which is used to fill out teams’ minor league affiliates more than anything else. Selecting Bour cost the Marlins $12K, but GM Michael Hill said the whole organization was high on him. “He played against us in the Southern League, so our staff liked him — as did our scouts that covered the league,” said Hill. Miami liked his peripherals and Double-A production.
- Athletics second baseman Ben Zobrist “might be the player most certain to be traded before July 31,” writes Rosenthal. Zobrist was recently tied to the Cubs, and while the team lacks an obvious everyday spot on its roster, the connection to manager Joe Maddon and the front office’s love of Zobrist may very well outweigh a perceived lack of everyday at-bats. I’d imagine Zobrist could get some time in left field and play all around the infield in an effort to get him five or six starts a week. Injuries may also pop up between now and the deadline.
- In a second article, Rosenthal looks at the upcoming class of free agent pitchers and notes that it might not be as great as many had expected. Doug Fister is on the DL and was below-average when healthy. Mat Latos has been injured and ineffective this season, and there have been recent injury concerns for both Johnny Cueto and Scott Kazmir. Rosenthal wonders how much more likely all of this makes Zack Greinke to opt out of his contract with the Dodgers, though I personally don’t think there was ever a great likelihood that a healthy Greinke would’ve gone any other route than opting out. Even at age 32, he can top the remaining three years and $71MM handily, even if it comes with a lesser average annual value.
Tigers right-hander Shane Greene tells Chad Jennings of the LoHud Yankees blog that it “felt like I got dumped” when the Yankees traded him in the three-team Didi Gregorius trade this season. Greene says he’s pitching with a chip on his shoulder this offseason as he looks to continue proving himself. Manager Joe Girardi tells Jennings that it was tough for the Yankees to part with a young starter like Greene, but they felt it was necessary to get a potential everyday shortstop in Gregorius. Greene adds that he entered the offseason knowing that his trade value was perhaps at its peak: “If they were going to make a move, I was probably going to be one of the pieces. … I know it’s a business. I’m not a complete idiot, so I knew if something was going to happen, my name would be at least talked about with the situation over there. I’m excited to be here, and that’s all that really matters.”
More from the AL Central to kick off Wednesday morning…
- Royals manager Ned Yost told Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star that he’s not sure he’s ever seen a player undergo such a drastic turnaround in an offseason as the one Mike Moustakas seems to have gone through. The former No. 2 overall pick is hitting the ball the opposite way frequently, and he’s hitting left-handed pitching in this year’s small sample as well. Yost joked that after all the faith that the Royals organization has shown Moustakas, “It’s almost like you want to stand up on this table and scream, ‘I told you so!'” Moustakas has worked with hitting coach Dale Sveum to re-work his swing, and the results are apparent to him and his teammates. Eric Hosmer noted that he’s never seen Moustakas hit the ball to left field as often as he does now.
- Had the Royals successfully reeled in Torii Hunter as a free agent this offseason, they likely wouldn’t have signed Kendrys Morales, GM Dayton Moore told the Star’s Vahe Gregorian. Moore and his staff considered Morales the next-best free agent bat after Hunter signed, and though he had a dismal 2014 season, the Royals attributed it to not beginning his season until June 8 as he took a long route to circumventing draft pick compensation after turning down a qualifying offer. The Royals judged him based largely on his 2012-3 seasons, which looks to have paid off thus far. Morales is hitting .351/.413/.544 through 63 plate appearances.
- The Twins have once again constructed a pitching staff — specifically a bullpen — that cannot miss bats, and that deficiency is already costing them, writes Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Twins relievers faced 26 Royals batters over the past two games and combined to strike out just one hitter — an unthinkably low rate in today’s game of specialized bullpens. Twins relievers are averaging just 5.18 K/9, which is dead last in baseball and ranks nearly a full strikeout worse than the 29th-ranked D-Backs (6.08).
The Royals have officially agreed to a two-year, $17MM deal with free agent DH Kendrys Morales. Morales can earn an additional $750K per year through performance incentives. The contract includes a mutual option for a third year.
Morales will earn $6.5MM in 2015 and $9MM in 2016, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (on Twitter). He also has a $1.5MM buyout on a $11MM mutual option, the inclusion of which was first reported by Chris Cotillo of SB Nation (on Twitter).
Morales becomes the replacement for long-time DH Billy Butler, who went to the A’s for $30MM over three years earlier in the offseason. Morales, a switch-hitter, is 31 years of age.
After sitting out a good chunk of the season last year, having declined a qualifying offer before entering free agency, Morales ultimately signed a one-year deal with the Twins. But he struggled there and was dealt to the Mariners, where he continued to fall shy of his typical standards at the plate.
Between 2009 and 2013 — not including a 2011 campaign lost to injury — Morales owned a cumulative .286/.339/.494 line while averaging over twenty home runs per season. That was good for a 128 OPS+, plenty above average even for a bat-only player. Last year, however, he slashed just .218/.274/.338 over 401 plate appearances.
Kansas City has placed a bet on a return to form for Morales, whose ability to hit pitching of both hands (but especially righties) is also attractive. The Royals ranked dead last in baseball with 95 deep flies last year, and Morales should provide a jolt of pop if he can get back on track with a full spring.
SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo reported the sides were close (Twitter links). Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweeted that the deal was done. Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports tweeted the financial terms, while Cotillo reported the option on Twitter.
4:06pm: Scott Boras is seeking “multiple years and substantial dollars” for Kendrys Morales, an official with one AL club told Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com (via Twitter). That means that the veteran might be on the market for a while once again this offseason unless his expectations change, Crasnick adds (link).
In late November, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported that the market was relatively quiet on Morales. Only the Indians, Rangers, and Royals were known as clubs to be taking a look while the Mariners and Blue Jays were also cited as possibilities.
With the Winter Meetings just a week away, MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince names the top ten Hot Stove storylines heading into December. How the top-tier starting pitcher market shakes out heads the list, according to Castrovince, who notes the trade market for the likes of Cole Hamels, Jordan Zimmermann, and Jeff Samardzija will heat up once free agents Jon Lester and Max Scherzer sign. Among Castrovince’s other top headlines this month are whether the Braves trade Justin Upton and how the Red Sox and Dodgers deal with their surplus of outfielders.
Elsewhere in baseball on the final day of November:
- After A’s GM Billy Beane signed Billy Butler to a $30MM deal and traded third baseman Josh Donaldson to the Blue Jays, Steve Melewski of MASNsports.com isn’t sure what the plan is in Oakland.
- The best way for the Rockies to become contenders is for Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki to be healthy and productive, but it would be daring for GM Jeff Bridich to trade the duo in search of salary relief to address areas of concern, opines MLB.com’s Tracy Ringolsby.
- The market for Kendrys Morales has been quiet to date with only the Indians being linked to the free agent DH. CBSSports.com’s Jon Heyman tweets, besides Cleveland, the Rangers and Royals are also taking a look at Morales while the Mariners and Blue Jays are possibilities, as well.
- Left-handed starter Andrew Albers recently became a free agent and has drawn interest from a number of big league clubs, an industry source told Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet. Albers became a free agent when South Korea’s Hanwha Eagles declined the 2015 option on his one-year deal. The Canadian pitched to a 5.84 ERA in 146 1/3 innings, though he did make 27 starts and led his team with 102 strikeouts. BN-S writes Albers appears to be seeking a split contract with incentives.
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Although the Indians were connected to free agent third baseman Chase Headley as recently as last night, Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that Headley won’t be coming to Cleveland, as he’s considered too expensive. The Indians did indeed reach out to Headley’s camp a few times before making that assertion, Hoynes adds.
Cleveland might not be a significant player on the free agent market at all, Hoynes writes, though they have contacted the agents for Kendrys Morales and Chris Denorfia. Cleveland’s interest in Morales dates back to 2006 when he was a free agent defector from Cuba. The switch-hitting Scott Boras client struggled in 2014, hitting a combined .218/.274/.338 in 401 plate appearances between the Twins and Mariners. However, Morales may have struggled due to sitting out through June 8, and he did enter the 2014 season as a lifetime .280/.333/.480 hitter in eight seasons. As Hoynes notes, Morales would become a more plausible target for the Indians if they’re able to unload Nick Swisher‘s contract, which they’ve reportedly been trying to do.
Denorfia, 34, also struggled in 2014, batting .230/.284/.318 between the Padres and Mariners. While he’s never had Morales’ upside at the plate, Denorfia has a long track record of hitting left-handed pitching and has excellent defensive marks in both outfield corners (plus the ability to play center in a pinch). A career .292/.358/.430 hitter against left-handed pitching, Denorfia could provide the Indians with a solid glove to pair with David Murphy in an outfield platoon, as Murphy hit just .238/.279/.325 against lefties last year and has a history of struggles against same-handed pitching.
Athletics slugger Brandon Moss has been playing through a hip injury that will require surgery (possibly a microfracture procedure) in the offseason, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports. An MRI revealed so much torn cartilage in Moss’ right hip that he’s struggling with bone-on-bone issues in the joint. Moss tells Slusser that he received a cortisone shot which should help him for the rest of the season and through the playoffs, but surgery is the only way to truly fix the issue. Though the injury has plagued him for much of the season, Moss said he didn’t blame his struggles on his hip.
More on those struggles and more from the AL West below…
- Fangraphs’ Eno Sarris had an excellent conversation with Moss about that slump in the A’s clubhouse recently (note that the conversation does feature some expletives). Moss says he places virtually no stock in batting average, as it is luck-driven and doesn’t adjust for defensive shifts. He spoke candidly about holes in his swing — pitches he knows he cannot reach and has to fight to lay off — as well as his batted ball profile, the reasoning behind his stance and the importance of prepping for his at-bats with video work. “…as a power hitter that doesn’t have a high average, I know I have to make my swings count,” said Moss, who also discussed how playing first base, the outfield and DH each affect his approach differently. Moss also touched on his time in previous organizations, noting that the Phillies didn’t feel he could consistently hit a Major League fastball — a notion at which he now laughs, as fastballs are far and away his best pitch.
- Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux is hopeful that he will receive an interview for the team’s managerial vacancy, and GM Jon Daniels expects to sit down with him at season’s end, writes MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan. Even if Maddux isn’t hired (or even interviewed), he’s expected to return to the club as a pitching cocah in 2015, a club official tells Sullivan, and he’s “certain” to return if interim manager Tim Bogar gets the job. Maddux’s contract is up after the current season.
- Kendrys Morales has interest in bypassing free agency to sign a new deal with the Mariners, writes Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune. However, the caveat is that he’d like a multi-year deal, which would obviously give the team pause. Morales, who sat out through the June draft this season to avoid being stuck with another qualifying offer, has batted just .217/.266/.330 between Seattle and Minnesota. Some of those struggles, of course, are likely due to the long layoff between Major League appearances. Morales did enter 2014 as a lifetime .280/.333/.480 hitter, making the extreme drop-off in his production rather surprising. One rival exec whose team is in need of a run-producing bat expressed concern over a multi-year deal for Morales when asked by Dutton, though he did concede that there’s upside to the idea: “He’s a big risk. I doubt he gets more than two (years) after the year he’s had. But if he bounces back, a year from now we could all be talking about what a steal he was.”
Astros second baseman Jose Altuve is just 5’6″, but he doesn’t allow his height, or lack thereof, to be a disadvantage, writes Tyler Kepner of the New York Times. “He’s an anomaly,” said David Stearns, the Astros’ assistant GM. “He’s tough to explain, other than the fact he works as hard or harder than anyone, he’s got freakish hand-eye skills, he loves baseball and he wants to be great.” More out of the AL West..
- Bob Dutton of The Tacoma News Tribune (on Twitter) believes that the Mariners have interest in keeping Kendrys Morales beyond this season but, of course, it’ll depend on the price. The M’s acquired Morales from the Twins in exchange for right-hander Stephen Pryor late last month. Morales batted just .234/.259/.325 for Minnesota and has slashed .207/.280/.329 for Seattle across 22 games.
- As commissioner Bud Selig makes his farewell tour, he readily admits that he wishes the A’s stadium situation would be resolved and over with, writes Joe Stiglich of CSNBayArea.com. “One of the reasons for the resurgence of this sport are the new stadiums, there’s no question about it,” Selig said. “I know better than anybody (that the A’s need a new stadium). It was and is complicated. I know people don’t understand that, but it is. And if it was easy, just like if it was easy in Tampa, I’d have been 24 out of 24. But I have hopes in both places. Do I wish it’d been solved? Of course I do. I wish it had.”
- Who’s the best corner outfield prospect in baseball? Jim Callis of MLB.com says that distinction belongs to Alex Jackson, whom the Mariners selected with the No. 6 overall pick in the 2014 draft. Jackson was the consensus top position prospect in his class and received the third-highest draft bonus of anyone this year. He’s got company at the top, however. MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo says the Pirates’ Josh Bell is the game’s best corner outfield prospect.
Morales’ stay with the Twins didn’t prove to be a lengthy one, as his tenure in Minnesota lasted just 39 games. The switch-hitting slugger’s overall numbers with the Twins don’t look like much, as he’s batted just .234/.259/.325. He did, however, just wrap up a 12-game hitting streak that saw him bat .292/.314/.417, so he’s showing some signs of life at the dish. Seattle designated hitters have batted just .217/.294/.343, so the bar for improvement isn’t set that high with the Mariners.
The Twins signed Morales shortly after the draft, paying him the prorated version of a $12MM base salary on a one-year deal. In other words, the Twins paid about $3.08MM for less than two months of Morales and turned that into the hard-throwing but control-challenged Pryor. The Mariners, on the other hand, appear to be on the hook for the remaining $4.3MM on Morales’ contract.
Pryor, who turned 25 yesterday, has spent much of the season with Triple-A Tacoma as he recovers from surgery to repair his latissimus dorsi muscle that he underwent in 2013 (as noted by Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN on Twitter). In 31 innings with Tacoma this season, Pryor has posted a 4.65 ERA with 7.8 K/9 and 5.2 BB/9. However, Pryor does have some big league experience under his belt, as he has compiled a 2.81 ERA with a 35-to-16 K/BB ratio in 32 Major League innings. He’s averaged 96 mph on his fastball in his brief time in the Majors and can be controlled at least through the 2018 season. Pryor will report to Triple-A Rochester, per the Twins.
Morales was said by agent Scott Boras to be interested in working out a long-term deal with the Twins. Morales also said (via interpreter) on a road trip to Seattle that the reason he didn’t sign with the M’s this past offseason was that didn’t want to be in the same situation (presumably referring to the possibility of taking a one-year deal and again being hit with a qualifying offer in the 2014-15 offseason). It’s possible that the Twins could again show interest in Morales as a free agent this winter, and if he can hit well over the final two-plus months with the Mariners, he figures to do better on the open market than he did last time around. Because he did not spent the entire regular season with one team, he is now ineligible to receive a qualifying offer.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Kendrys Morales‘ first venture into free agency lasted much longer than the switch-hitter would have liked, and after signing a one-year deal with the Twins in June, it sounds as if he’s very open to signing a contract that would prevent him from hitting the free agency again this winter. Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN spoke with Morales’ agent, Scott Boras, who “gushed” about how much his client loves playing for the Twins (Twitter link). A long-term deal is “certainly in play,” Wolfson adds.
Of course, it remains to be seen whether the Twins themselves are open to such a proposition. Certainly the early returns on their investment in Morales haven’t been encouraging. The longtime AL West slugger started off hot with Minnesota, but he’s seen his batting line fall to .229/.254/.328. Given his lack of defensive value, both Fangraphs and Baseball-Reference peg him at -0.8 WAR.
Morales has begun to swing a bit better, as he is on a seven-game hitting streak during which he’s cracked five doubles, but he still isn’t showing any patience at the plate. His current 3.6 percent walk rate is the lowest of his career.
A few productive weeks could turn Morales into a nice trade chip at the deadline, and the Twins have to at least be considering the idea of selling off some veteran pieces, barring a sudden turnaround after the break. Currently, they’re 10.5 games out of the division lead and 6.5 games back of a Wild Card spot. Even if the Twins do move Morales, they could always look to re-sign him as a free agent this winter — a scenario on which the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo recently speculated.