Kendry Morales Rumors
Let's check out the newest edition of Full Count from Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports..
- Milwaukee may not be able to find a taker for Prince Fielder before the trade deadline. Fielder's deal runs through next season and the Angels, who are the most obvious fit, only need a first baseman for the remainder of this season to fill in for Kendry Morales. The teams with the greatest needs for a first baseman/designated hitter type, such as the Mariners, aren't in contention. Rosenthal points out that Brewers GM Doug Melvin has always said that it's easier to move position players in the winter when more teams can be drawn into the mix.
- Angels GM Tony Reagins says that the team will be patient in finding a replacement for Morales. The Angels are starting to play better and Mike Napoli is an obvious internal solution as Jeff Mathis gets set to return. While their biggest need is in the bullpen, Reagins says that the team is comfortable with the pitchers that they have, for now.
- White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski would almost certainly consent to a trade if the club asked him to move on in order to give Tyler Flowers big league experience. Pierzynski has the right to veto any trade beginning on June 13th. The veteran is a free agent at the end of the season and could enhance his value by going to a contender. If he was still available in August then his salary is high enough that he would likely clear waivers.
- The Mets say that they have the payroll flexibility to add a starter at the deadline but it remains to be seen just how much and how willing they are to part with young talent. One solution could be putting Jenrry Mejia in the starting five as GM Omar Minaya believes that he could be a dominant starter. However, manager Jerry Manuel raised doubts about that happening this season.
Major league executives told ESPN.com's Jayson Stark which starters they would most want to have for the next ten years. Zack Greinke and Tim Lincecum didn't make the cut, but Felix Hernandez, Josh Johnson, Ubaldo Jimenez, David Price, Brett Anderson and Jon Lester did. Here are Stark's latest rumors, as the trade market starts taking shape:
- Two teams say that the Orioles would listen on Kevin Millwood right now.
- A rival executive says the Orioles are "sniffing around for a shortstop." Stark hears rumors that they have interest in Twins prospect Trevor Plouffe.
- The Mariners won't seriously consider trading Cliff Lee before they're sure they can't salvage their season.
- There's increasing pessimism that the Astros will be able to obtain salary relief and prospects for Roy Oswalt.
- Teams are giving up on acquiring Adrian Gonzalez this summer, since the Padres continue to win.
- Two officials believe Heath Bell could be traded even if the Padres stay in contention. Check out this post from earlier in the week for more on Bell's trade value.
- Tom Gorzelanny could be on the market in a couple weeks when John Grabow comes off the DL.
- Stark hears that the Marlins will call Mike Stanton up next week. The Marlins are being cautious, since they want to prevent Stanton from obtaining super two status and teams believe the cut-off will be later than ever this year.
- Stark's sources don't expect the Angels to start searching for a bat to replace Kendry Morales for a few weeks. When they begin looking for offense, they're expected to look for someone who is about to hit free agency or a versatile player who can defend around the diamond. Kendry Morales is under team control through 2013, so Prince Fielder wouldn't be a fit for the Angels.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports leads his latest column by noting that the Angels' problems extend beyond the loss of first baseman Kendry Morales. On the business side, I wonder how Morales' abbreviated 2010 will affect his first-time arbitration payday after the season. A few other hot stove notes from Rosenthal...
- Rosenthal would not be surprised to see the Cardinals add a starting pitcher. They've got payroll flexibility but a reluctance to move more prospects. In my opinion, that points toward an acquisition of someone like Jake Westbrook.
- Carlos Silva has surpassed all expectations, and you have to credit Cubs GM Jim Hendry for saving money and getting a useful player for Milton Bradley. Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik said to Rosenthal, "We didn't see any flashes of him doing what he's doing now. It just didn't feel like it was going to work here."
- Rosenthal finds it likely that the Yankees will attempt to acquire a bat as well as bullpen help.
- Could Phillies first base prospect Jonathan Singleton become trade bait? Rosenthal spoke to one scout who raved about Singleton, who the Phillies drafted out of high school in the eighth round last year. Singleton, ranked 20th among Phils prospects heading into the season by Baseball America, is off to a strong start in Low A.
4:28pm: The Boston Globe's Peter Abraham wonders (via Twitter) if Mike Lowell will be traded to the Angels in light of Morales' injury. He notes that the Red Sox would likely have to eat a large portion of Lowell's salary.
2:16pm: ESPN's Mark Saxon tweets that the Angels are saying Morales' injury is not season ending, though he doesn't provide a timetable for the slugger's return. As Saxon points out in another tweet, Mike Napoli will start at first base today for the first time since his minor league days.
10:57am: Following one of the more unusual injuries in recent years, the Angels now face the problem of how to replace their most productive hitter. Kendry Morales, who was hitting .290/.346/.487 with 11 homers, fractured his leg while celebrating a walk-off grand slam last night, and could miss the rest of the season.
Robb Quinlan and Mark Trumbo are in-house candidates to step in for Morales, but the defending AL West champs will likely consider acquiring an impact player to boost an offense that, even with Morales, has hit just .248. After all, despite playing sub-.500 ball so far, they're very much in contention, sitting only 3.5 games out of first place.
Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times writes that the Angels have plenty of options when it comes to finding a new first baseman. He suggests that Paul Konerko and Lance Berkman are the two most attractive and realistic trade targets for the Angels, though he acknowledges that the club won't have much leverage, given their desperate need for a middle-of-the-order bat. The Chicago Tribune's Mark Gonzales agrees that Konerko could be a fit for the Angels, noting that the White Sox first baseman has a relationship with Mike Scioscia that dates back to their days with the Dodgers.
DiGiovanna names a handful of other possible targets for the Angels, including Adam Dunn, Adam LaRoche, Russell Branyan, and Prince Fielder. Obviously, some of those sluggers are less available than others. Jermaine Dye, Ryan Garko, and Carlos Delgado (when he's healthy) are a few more available, low-cost options the team could look at, according to DiGiovanna.
Even if the Angels decide to make a move, it may not happen for a month or two, coming closer to the trade deadline. However, in the wake of Morales' injury, it's safe to put them near the top of the list of teams who will be shopping for a power hitter this summer.
White Sox director of player development Buddy Bell recently told reporters he envisions the first few years of Cuban prospect Dayan Viciedo's career panning out like those of another former defector fresh off of a breakout season, Angels first baseman Kendry Morales. Viciedo may be taking the comparison to heart, as not only has he been taking grounders at first during spring training, he has also changed agents from Jaime Torres to Scott Boras, writes ESPN's Jorge Arangure, Jr.
If Viciedo switched permanently from third to first, he would immediately become the team's top prospect at the position just as Paul Konerko enters the final season of his five-year, $60MM post-World Series contract. The question is whether the move is more than just a preseason experiment. Arangure passes along an unenthusiastic quote from the player through his translator: "My position is third base. But I'll play wherever they tell me." Viciedo seemed more upbeat when he spoke in Spanish with the Nuevo Herald's Luis Rangel:
"Although I haven't played much in that position, I'd feel fine if the change eventually materialized. I don't think I'll have problems. If they ultimately ask me to play as a starter, I'll do it."
Viciedo has yet to see Triple A action for the White Sox, and his .280/.317/.391 line at Double A Birmingham last season wasn't first base heir-apparent material. A .313/.350/.464 second half looked more promising, though still well below the power numbers Morales showed at all levels of the Angels system. And though Viciedo's defense at third base didn't garner rave reviews, trainer Jesus Gallo tells Aragure that his off-season work was geared specifically toward slimming down the bulky prospect and making him lighter on his feet in preparation of a move to first.
While Viciedo isn't the first Cuban player this offseason to jettison the agent who worked with him from defection through signing, his choice of Boras may ultimately send a more powerful message to other prospects than, say, Aroldis Chapman's switch to Hendricks Sports Management or Morales' move from Hendricks to Boras. Viciedo, according to some Cuban baseball experts, wasn't viewed on the island as a top-level talent like Chapman, and the $10MM contract he signed in 2008 caused many other Cuban players to seriously ponder their potential value for the first time.
All the noticias de beisbol fit to imprimir...
- Jorge Ebro at Nuevo Herald spoke to Leslie Anderson's agent Jaime Torres, who repeated the familiar refrain that Anderson is "about to sign." Anderson is currently playing for the Tigers of Quintana Roo in the Mexican League, and he has said he is willing to continue playing in Mexico if he doesn't find the right offer in the majors.
- In the same article, Ebro outlines how an increasing number of defections is affecting the level of play in the historically prestigious Cuban Serie Nacional. According to his sources, more than 300 players at various levels have left the island in recent years. Kendry Morales and Yunel Escobar tell Ebro that the league has greatly diminished since when they played in it.
- This season, only the US and the Dominican Republic will have more representation on major league rosters than Venezuela. But more South Americans will be playing stateside soon, now that the Venezuelan Baseball Federation has signed a three-year affiliation with the independent Yuma Scorpions of the Golden Baseball League. According to the press release, the agreement is intended to showcase not only players, but also coaches and trainers to major league organizations.
- Fresh from being bumped to DH and part-time left fielder duties by Johnny Damon, Carlos Guillen spoke with Carlos Valmore Rodriguez at the Venezuelan newspaper La Lider about his career as a position-hopping "Bedouin of baseball." He lauds the Venezuelan winter leagues for forcing prospects to become more versatile, and passes along the advice he received from journeyman Stan Javier upon starting out with the Mariners: "Work hard in any position, because you know where you start but not where you end up."
If you're in the Northeast, here are some links to check out while you take a break from shoveling...
- ESPN's Jayson Stark ranked baseball's ten-year contracts, with Derek Jeter's soon to be completed ten-year, $189MM deal coming in as the best.
- The Marlins agreed to one-year contracts with 12 of their pre-arbitration eligible players according to MLB.com's Joe Frisaro, including Sean West, Chris Volstad, Emilio Bonifacio, and Dan Meyer.
- Brewers owner Mark Attanasio confirmed that he will be involved in long-term contract discussions with Prince Fielder, according to Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel (via Twitter). Haudricourt also tweets that Attanasio and GM Doug Melvin met today to discuss the situation and there will be no deadlines imposed on the 25-year-old.
- Rich Aurilia, who stopped by the Giants' camp today, says that while he's still looking for a job, he will retire if he doesn't have one by the end of spring, tweets Jeff Fletcher of AOL Fanhouse. The 38-year-old has a broadcasting deal in place if he is unable to find a job on the field.
- Shin-Soo Choo says that he would like to stay in Cleveland long-term, writes MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince. Choo, like Morales, cut ties with his former agent (Alan Nero) in favor of Scott Boras.
- Michael Weiner, the executive director of the players' union, confirmed that the union is participating in an investigation into alleged unauthorized withdrawals from Kendry Morales' bank account by a former employee of his former agents, Hendricks Sports Management (Bill Plunkett of the OC Register reporting). Morales recently dropped HSM and hired Scott Boras.
- Bernie Miklasz of The St. Louis Post-Dispatch provides a few quotes from Albert Pujols about his contract situation. "Do I want to do this right now and take care of this so we don't need to worry about it? Of course," said Pujols. "If it happens, it happens. But there are some things I am able to control and there are other things that are out of my hands that I can't control. And that's the truth."
- The Mariners signed righty Tom Wilhelmsen to a minor league contract, according to Geoff Baker of The Seattle Times. The 27-year-old had been out of baseball since 2005 because of substance abuse issues, though he resurfaced with an independent league team last season.
- Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker passes along a report indicating the the Orix Buffaloes are moving towards a deal with Freddie Bynum. The White Sox released Bynum last week so he could pursue opportunities in Japan.
- Meanwhile, Joe Strauss of The St. Louis Post-Dispatch says that Felipe Lopez will provide the Cardinals with a great amount of flexibility.
- Joel Sherman of The New York Post calls the contracts of Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, C.C. Sabathia and other Yankee players "time-bomb contracts."
- John Tomase of The Boston Herald says the Red Sox have a deep bench with Mike Lowell, Bill Hall, Jeremy Hermida, and Jason Varitek.
Get out the Spanish-English dictionary and put on Raekwon's Only Built 4 Cuban Linx...
- Morgan Campbell at the Toronto Star posits that Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos' recent scouting trip to the Dominican Republic could mean the team is "closing in" on Jose Julio Ruiz. Yesterday, Ruiz's trainer told the Nuevo Herald that the first baseman's most recent tryout, his "last before signing," was against Blue Jays players. The blog cubanballplayers.com also reported on Tuesday that Ruiz had a private tryout with the Jays. Both the team and Prestige Sports Agency, which represents Ruiz, remain mum on any communication.
- Cuban first baseman/outfielder Leslie Anderson tells Angel Mazariego of the Mexican newspaper Sipse that he is willing to play in Mexico this season if nothing materializes for him in the majors. Anderson lists the Red Sox, Yankees, Mariners, Dodgers, Giants and Brewers as the teams he knows to have scouted him recently. Mazariego adds the Dodgers and Tigers to the list.
- Amaury Perez Torres at the Cuban baseball blog Las Avispas cites a "source close to" pitching prospect Juan Yasser Serrano saying that the right-hander has worked out for 10 major league teams this winter. Most recently, the source says, Serrano struck out four in a two-inning simulation for the Cubs on February 19, with a fastball that touched 93.
- If it seems like there is more chatter about Cuban defectors than ever before, that's no coincidence, writes Campbell in the Toronto Star. In a lengthy article, he outlines how more Cuban players are now aiming at the major leagues thanks to the success of Kendry Morales and Yunel Escobar, neither of whom was a starter in Cuba. Equally significant was the contract that third base prospect Dayan Viciedo signed with the White Sox in 2008. A Cuban baseball expert in Canada tells Campbell that Viciedo made players on the island think, "If he can get $10 million, then what am I worth?"
- Speaking of Morales, Jorge Arangure Jr. adds a new dimension to the first baseman's recent switch from Hendricks Sports Management to Scott Boras in an article in ESPN the Magazine. Rodney Fernandez, who recruited both Morales and Aroldis Chapman for Kendricks, is being investigated by the MLBPA and Florida police in regard to $300K that disappeared from Morales' bank account.
While he lost free agent Felipe Lopez yesterday, agent Scott Boras has picked up a new client in Angels first baseman Kendry Morales, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Morales is entering the final season of a six year, $4.5MM contract and will be arbitration-eligible for the first time after this season.
The 26-year-old Morales was previously represented by the Hendricks brothers. Jorge Arangure Jr. of ESPN writes that Morales helped lure Aroldis Chapman to Hendricks Sports Management.
Links for Saturday...
- Jordan Bastian of MLB.com provides his list of the top 10 prospects in Toronto's system and answers other Jays-related questions in a reader mailbag.
- MLB.com's Mark Sheldon writes that the holding pattern between Jonny Gomes and the Reds is continuing. Sheldon says that Gomes might make his decision once one of the other second-tier outfielders - guys like Garret Anderson, Cliff Floyd, Endy Chavez, or Marlon Anderson - sign with a club.
- Susan Slusser of The San Francisco Chronicle says that Tim Lincecum's contract with the Giants will have future ramifications because it'll help keep his salary down after it expires. Lincecum will still have two more years of arbitration eligibility left when this new deal expires.
- The Yankees will be serious bidders for Cuban shortstop Adeiny Hechevarria once he is "unblocked" by the Office of Foreign Assets Control, reports George A. King III of The New York Post.
- Despite signing Mike Lamb to a minor league deal, the Marlins are still on the lookout for a lefty bat off the bench, tweets MLB.com's Joe Frisaro.
- In a separate tweet, Frisaro says that the chances of the team bringing Kiko Calero back are slim, even on a minor league deal. They have concerns about his shoulder.
- Jim McLennan of AZ Snakepit posted Part Two if his interview with Diamondbacks' GM Josh Byrnes.
- John Tomase of The Boston Herald says that the Red Sox don't look like a team in transition, despite GM Theo Epstein's comments earlier this offseason.
- Here are the latest minor league transactions, courtesy of Baseball America's Matt Eddy. The Marlins signed outfielder Jason Lane to a minor league deal.