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Kevin Gausman Rumors
JULY 27: Duquette reiterated today that he does not see any circumstances in which the Orioles would turn into sellers before the deadline, Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reports (Twitter links). “We may make some trades, but anything that we do we’re gonna try and improve our ballclub for this year,” said Duquette.
There had been some suggestion that Baltimore could switch into sell mode after slipping under .500, but the team’s top baseball decisionmaker certainly did not appear to leave any room for that possibility with the deadline just days away.
JULY 22: Orioles executive vice president/general manager Dan Duquette held court with the Baltimore media prior to today’s game and definitively said that the club will be buyers at the trade deadline regardless of how the team plays over the next week (via Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun, on Twitter). Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com tweets that Duquette specifically said that the team needs better production from its outfield and pitching depth. Rich Dubroff of CSNBaltimore.com tweets that Duquette said the team is not looking to trade right-hander Kevin Gausman, but he’s the type of piece that other clubs will routinely ask about. (As Encina notes, Duquette’s comments don’t necessarily squash the rumor that he’s willing to listen to offers on Gausman.)
The Orioles are currently a .500 club at 46-46, which places them five games out of the division lead in the American League East. The Yankees are presently in the division lead, with the second-place Blue Jays just a half-game ahead of Baltimore.
Outfield production has indeed been a problem for Baltimore in 2015. A year after letting Nick Markakis and Nelson Cruz walk as free agents, Orioles left fielders are batting a putrid .219/.289/.344. Baltimore right fielders have produced a more palatable .285/.321/.440 triple-slash, and Adam Jones, of course, has contributed his typical brand of strong offensive output in center field.
Duquette and the Orioles hoped that the combination of Alejandro De Aza, Delmon Young, Steve Pearce, Travis Snider and David Lough would sufficiently cover their corner outfield needs, but that hasn’t been the case. However, De Aza and Young were both designated for assignment, with the former headed to Boston via trade and the latter ultimately getting released. Pearce hasn’t come close to reproducing his 2014 breakout, Snider’s offense is down significantly from 2014, and Lough’s value was always going to come more from his ability to prevent runs than his ability to create them.
In the rotation, Chris Tillman, Bud Norris and Miguel Gonzalez have all struggled, although Tillman’s shown signs of life over his past four outings, posting a sub-2.00 ERA with a 24-to-3 K/BB ratio in 24 1/3 innings. Ubaldo Jimenez. who is enjoying one of the best rebound campaigns in all of baseball this season, has been an unexpected bright spot as well. Nonetheless, Baltimore’s rotation has turned in a collective 4.22 ERA that ranks 22nd in the Majors. What’s worse is the fact that Baltimore starters haven’t pitched deep into the game, either; the team’s 523 innings out of the rotation is the fourth-lowest total in all of Major League Baseball, leading only the Rockies, Royals and Diamondbacks.
The Orioles face an uphill battle if they’re to add a significant piece to their big league club, as the Baltimore farm system is commonly regarded as one of the worst in the league. (Forfeiting two picks in the 2014 draft to sign Cruz and Jimenez, plus failing to sign their second-round pick in the most recent draft haven’t helped matters.) Duquette’s comments seem to suggest that the Orioles aren’t actively shopping Gausman, though as Encina noted above, he also declined to make a definitive statement that Gausman is off the table. Perhaps that’s reading too much into his comments, but I’d imagine that with scant depth in the farm, teams would be intrigued by an MLB-ready arm such as Gausman.
To this point, the Orioles have been connected to many of the impact bats on the market, including Justin Upton and Carlos Gomez. Jay Bruce‘s name has surfaced as a target as well. Things on the pitching side of the equation are a bit murkier, though one name that’s been tied to the Orioles is Cincinnati’s Mike Leake.
Early Sunday morning, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports released his latest edition of Full Count (video link). Let’s dive in and take a look at some of the highlights..
- A trade of highly-regarded young right-hander Kevin Gausman would be quite unpopular with many members of the Orioles organization, Rosenthal hears. It was reported late last week that the O’s appeared to be willing to discuss the 24-year-old but skipper Buck Showalter said on Saturday called that notion “comical.”
- Tyson Ross is drawing the most interest of any Padres starting pitcher, thanks in large part to his contractual status. Ross is under control through 2017 while Ian Kennedy is a potential pending free agent and Andrew Cashner can be a free agent after next season. Unsurprisingly, the Padres want a greater haul for Ross than any of their other arms.
- Dan Haren is on pace for about 33 starts and 205 innings, totals that would trigger an additional $3MM in incentives. The Marlins could have some extra incentive of their own to move the veteran starter since they’d only be on the hook for the prorated portion of that, saving them roughly $1MM.
- With the pending returns of Jaime Garcia and Marco Gonzales, the Cardinals are one team that is not in the hunt for starting pitching.
TODAY: O’s skipper Buck Showalter says it is “comical” to suggest the possibility of the club dealing Gausman, in an appearance on MLB Network Radio (Twitter link).
Baltimore’s lack of movable, high-level prospects has been discussed often this summer, as the team has dealt with injuries to Hunter Harvey and Dylan Bundy. While Gausman is no longer a prospect after seeing big league time in each of the last three years, his value lies primarily in the future.
The 24-year-old Gausman showed plenty of promise last season, when he put up 113 1/3 innings of 3.57 ERA pitching, all from the rotation. He struck out 7.0 and walked 3.0 batters per nine in that stretch. Gausman has mostly worked at Triple-A or from the big league pen this year, though he’s set to start tonight and has opened three additional games. The results (5.00 ERA in 27 innings) have not been as impressive, but Gausman continues to dominate in the upper minors and his big league peripherals are as solid as ever.
It had been expected that Gausman would be off limits, particularly since he factors into the team’s current plans and the team already gave up Eduardo Rodriguez last year. But with Baltimore looking to take advantage of a group of veterans that are set to hit the open market, to say nothing of a generally vulnerable AL East, it appears that the team will at least entertain the possibility of dealing its best young pitcher.
Obviously, the O’s will not part with Gausman lightly. And it remains to be seen precisely what kind of acquisition would be needed to get a deal done. One factor increasing Gausman’s trade value is that he only just passed one year in MLB service time. That means that he can be controlled all the way through he 2020 campaign.
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Red Sox ace Clay Buchholz will see Dr. James Andrews for a second opinion on his strained flexor tendon, writes Rob Bradford of WEEI.com. Buchholz doesn’t believe the injury is more serious than originally thought. However, he trusts Andrews’ opinion as an impartial observer, and they have consulted over previous injuries. Interestingly, Buchholz mentioned his contract status as a reason to seek an opinion outside of the organization. The Red Sox own team options for 2016 and 2017.
Here’s more from the East divisions:
- Marlins utility man Don Kelly had season-ending Tommy John surgery, tweets Joe Frisaro of MLB.com. Kelly got into just two games for the Marlins in early April. He also spent a short stint at High-A. In 1,190 plate appearances, mostly with the Tigers, he’s a .232/.296/.335 hitter.
- A roster move is in the Orioles immediate future and Chris Parmelee may wind up with the short straw, writes Roch Kubatko of MASN. The club plans to recall Kevin Gausman for a start on Wednesday. The O’s are currently carrying just 11 pitchers, so a position player will have to go. In addition to Parmelee, I could see Ryan Flaherty, David Lough, and Nolan Reimold as players who could be designated. Jonathan Schoop could be temporarily optioned if Baltimore didn’t want to risk losing anybody. Also per Kubatko, the Orioles are monitoring prospect Dariel Alvarez. They could promote him soon despite concerns about his defense and plate discipline.
- When Ryne Sandberg resigned as Phillies manager, it caught colleague and friend Larry Bowa by surprise, writes Jim Salisbury of Philly.com. In an interesting interview, Bowa offered some opinions as to why Sandberg walked away. In addition to expected changes related to the hiring of Andy MacPhail, Bowa posits that Sandberg was fed up with a lack of work ethic in modern players. Bowa offers quite a bit more nuance so I recommend Phillies fans read the article.
- According to assistant GM Billy Eppler, the Yankees are engaged in several trade discussions, reports Brendan Kuty of NJ.com. Eppler played coy to the specifics, but he did note that it would be hard for the club to outdo the reinforcements they received off the disabled list – namely Jacoby Ellsbury and Andrew Miller.
While Yankees GM Brian Cashman has had his fair share of misses in terms of acquiring impact starting pitching both via trades and free agency, last night’s 16-strikeout performance by Michael Pineda and the 26-year-old’s brilliant start to the season serve help to erase some of those previous whiffs from his record, writes Bill Madden of the New York Daily News. Pineda has been every bit as good as Matt Harvey this season, Madden notes — the two have identical 2.72 ERAs — but with a fraction of the hype (though the 16 punchouts will likely balance some of that out). Manager Joe Girardi cited improvement in Pineda’s changeup, consistency in throwing strikes and improved maturity as reasons for Pineda’s breakout this season. Madden recalls both Cashman and his Seattle counterpart, Jack Zduriencik, calling the Pineda-for-Jesus Montero trade one of the toughest trades they’ve ever had to make, as each was parting with a potential future star. However, Montero’s future is questionable at best, as he’s moved off catcher and has yet to establish himself in the Major Leagues.
A few more notes from the AL East…
- Chad Jennings of the Journal News also discusses the Pineda trade, recalling that at the time the deal was made, one talent evaluator told him that the safest bet in the trade was Montero’s bat. Every Yankees person to whom Jennings spoke back in 2012 said that it’d be several years before it was clear whether or not the Yankees had “won” the trade, and Jennings notes that that does seem to be the case now. Jennings spoke with Pineda who admitted that he’s done quite a bit of growing up in the past three years.
- Orioles righty Kevin Gausman is currently on the disabled list and could be activated as soon as May 22, but when he does come off the DL, he’ll likely head to Triple-A and work as a starter, writes Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun. Orioles manager Buck Showalter worries that Gausman has been underutilized coming out of the bullpen this season. Gausman himself told Encina that the team has said they don’t want him to finish the season with 40-50 innings and then have to jump into the rotation in 2016. As Encina notes, both Wei-Yin Chen and Bud Norris are free agents at season’s end, which could pave the way for a rotation spot with Gausman’s name on it.
- Though Red Sox manager John Farrell is still maintaining that there will not be changes made to the rotation, his stance appears to have softened a bit, notes Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe. “Not at the present moment,” Farrell said when asked if changes were planned. “Now, that’s always up for review. We’ll see how we continue to progress through the rotation for another turn.” Farrell was specifically asked about the possibility of moving Joe Kelly, who has yielded 21 runs over his past 21 2/3 innings, to the bullpen, but Farrell said such a change hadn’t been “closely discussed.” The Sox may want to get new pitching coach Carl Willis’ take on the rotation before making any decisions, Abraham notes.
Kevin Pillar was expected to be the Blue Jays‘ fourth outfielder this season and, until Michael Saunders returned from the DL, only a short-term replacement in left field. After a hot start both offensively and defensively (including an incredible homer-robbing catch last night), however, Sportsnet.ca’s Ben Nicholson-Smith notes that Pillar is making a strong bid for regular playing time even after Saunders is back. Given Saunders’ knee injury and recent hamstring issue, I’d guess that he could see some DH time to keep him fresh, opening the door for Pillar to continue playing in left. Switch-hitting center fielder Dalton Pompey has badly struggled against left-handed pitching in his brief career, so Pillar (a right-handed hitter) could also be used in a semi-platoon situation.
Here’s some news from around the AL East…
- The Orioles are dealing with several roster questions, and MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko notes that the club’s decisions involve both making the team better in 2015 and also looking ahead to who might fill some holes on the 2016 roster. Baltimore has 10 players scheduled for free agency this winter, leaving plenty of room to evaluate players for bigger roles, like T.J. McFarland or Mike Wright for a possible rotation spot next year.
- Also from Kubatko’s piece, the Orioles want to keep Rule 5 Draft pick Jason Garcia as a piece for 2016 and beyond, though keeping him on the roster for all of this season could be tricky. Garcia also has some interest from other teams, as “at least one member of the organization is convinced that the Rays would claim” the young righty if he was put on waivers.
- Grantland’s Jonah Keri explores why the Orioles are keeping Kevin Gausman in the bullpen when the promising youngster and former fourth overall pick could be more valuable in the rotation. One theory Keri has heard is that the O’s are giving their five veterans an opportunity to start in order to showcase them for possible trades, which would then open a space for Gausman. Wei-Yin Chen and Bud Norris are both free agents after the season and the O’s would likely love to rid themselves of Ubaldo Jimenez‘s contract, though it’s worth noting that Gausman has thus far struggled (8.31 ERA and a 1:1 strikeout to walk ratio over four innings) in a relief role.
- The early returns on the Yankees‘ offseason three-team trade with the Diamondbacks and Tigers aren’t promising for the Bronx Bombers, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes. Shane Greene, who went to Detroit from New York, has yet to allow a run in 16 innings for the Tigers, while Didi Gregorius has had an all-around rough start to his Yankees career. While it’s still early, one scout tells Sherman that Greene made some strong adjustments and “was the best pitcher he had seen in March.” Sherman also notes that the Yankees haven’t historically had much success in trades with Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski.
Here are today’s minor moves from around the league.
- Reds pitcher Raisel Iglesias will make his major league debut tomorrow, writes Jason Haddix for MLB.com. He’ll be opposed by Cardinals hurler Carlos Martinez. The Reds committed to a seven-year, $27MM contract with Iglesias during the 2014 season.
- The Orioles selected the contract of knuckleballer Eddie Gamboa, writes Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com. Wesley Wright was added to the disabled list in a corresponding move. Gamboa, 30, had yet to reach the majors although he figures to bounce back and forth this year. He’ll serve as depth in case Kevin Gausman is needed in long relief in the next couple games.
- Pirates utility man Pedro Florimon has cleared waivers, tweets Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. He has been outrighted to Triple-A. Per Brink (also Twitter), since Florimon has been outrighted before, he can decline and become a free agent. Brink is told no decision has been made.
- The Rangers have announced that they’ve selected the contract of corner outfielder Carlos Peguero and recalled pitcher Jon Edwards. They’ve also moved Derek Holland (shoulder) to the 60-day disabled list and Ryan Rua (ankle) to the 15-day disabled list. Peguero is in the Rangers’ lineup tonight. The 28-year-old Peguero has played briefly, and not particularly impressively, for the Mariners and Royals in parts of four big-league seasons, but he’s demonstrated serious power in the minors (with 30 homers for Triple-A Omaha last year) and in Spring Training.
- The Giants have outrighted infielder Ehire Adrianza to Triple-A Sacramento, MLB.com’s Chris Haft tweets. The team designated Adrianza for assignment last week. Adrianza, 25, hit .237/.279/.299 in 106 plate appearances while playing mostly shortstop and second base for the Giants last season.
- The Yankees have announced that they’ve promoted lefty Matt Tracy. To clear space for Tracy on the 25- and 40-man rosters, the Yankees optioned lefty Chasen Shreve to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and moved Ivan Nova to the 60-day disabled list. Tracy will need to be added to the Yankees’ 40-man roster. Tracy’s stay on the roster could turn out to be short, however — the Yankees can use some quick bullpen reinforcements after their 19-inning game against the Red Sox last night, and Tracy would presumably join the team for that purpose. The 26-year-old posted a 3.76 ERA with 5.3 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 in 150 2/3 innings between Double-A and Triple-A last year.
- Two players remain in DFA limbo, via MLBTR’s DFA Tracker: lefty Sam Freeman (Rangers) and outfielder Carlos Quentin (Braves).
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Here are a few notes on the Orioles, many of them from CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman:
- The team has received more inquiries about lefty reliever Brian Matusz since the emergence of rumors connecting him to the Mets. That could increase the chances that the Orioles will trade him, Heyman writes. The Orioles already have lefties T.J. McFarland and Wesley Wright, plus closer Zach Britton, in their bullpen.
- The Orioles also have an abundance of starting pitchers, and they want Kevin Gausman in their rotation, so they could consider optioning Miguel Gonzalez or Wei-Yin Chen to the minors.
- The Orioles would like to keep both their Rule 5 picks, Logan Verrett (Mets) and Jason Garcia (Red Sox), but it will be hard for them to retain both. Verrett, who has pitched well this spring, is more likely to stick, Heyman writes. (Verrett also has far more experience in the upper minors than Garcia does.) Even keeping one might be somewhat difficult, in my opinion, given all the Orioles’ more experienced relievers (Britton, McFarland, Wright, Darren O’Day, Tommy Hunter, Brad Brach and Ryan Webb, although McFarland and Webb could be optioned, as Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun writes). Trading Matusz would help if they’re serious about keeping Verrett and/or Garcia.
- Garcia’s fastball has been “pretty unhittable” this spring, the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo writes. He has never pitched above Class A, so the Red Sox might have thought no one would select him. Unsurprisingly for a young reliever, his secondary pitches aren’t strong, but a fastball in the upper 90s could help him have big-league success anyway.
6:58pm: The Orioles did have discussions earlier on Lester, but talks have fizzled and there no longer appears to be a match, reports Andy Martino of the New York Daily News.
For what it’s worth, Duquette did tell reporters that he had at least some interest in adding a frontline starter, which is something of a different tone than the club had set in recent days, as Connolly reports. “We’d be interested in adding pitchers that could help us at the top of our rotation,” said Duquette. “Who wouldn’t be?” But Duquette did not waver from his prior statements that Baltimore is quite hesitant to part with young arms: “I think with our young pitchers we would be conservative, and we would try and give them a prolonged trial in the big leagues before we would trade them.”
3:58pm: Told of rumors that a deal could be close, Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette said that would be “news to him,” as Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com tweets.
3:50pm: Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun hears differently than Abraham and Ghiroli, reporting that his sources indicate there’s nothing hot between the two sides at this time (Twitter link).
2:36pm: Abraham tweets that the two sides are in advanced discussions, but the Red Sox have alternatives, should Baltimore not meet their asking price. Ghiroli adds that Baltimore isn’t likely to part with Gausman in a Lester deal, but the two sides are still in serious discussions.
2:25pm: Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweets that a deal isn’t close at this time, although Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com tweets that talks are indeed heating up. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports also tweets that nothing is close to finalization at this point, though that doesn’t preclude a deal from being reached. Andy Martino of the New York Daily news also hears that a deal is possible, but not close at this time (Twitter link).
2:16pm: The Orioles are in advanced talks that would send a pitcher to Boston in exchange for Jon Lester, reports Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe (on Twitter). MLB.com’s Britt Ghiroli tweets that the two sides are “close” to a deal.
4:30pm: The Astros have issued the following statement regarding the leaked notes:
“Last month, we were made aware that proprietary information held on Astros’ servers and in Astros’ applications had been illegally obtained. Upon learning of the security breach, we immediately notified MLB security who, in turn, notified the FBI. Since that time, we have been working closely with MLB security and the FBI to the determine the party, or parties, responsible. This information was illegally obtained and published, and we intend to prosecute those involved to the fullest extent.
“It is unfortunate and extremely disappointing that an outside source has illegally obtained confidential information. While it does appear that some of the content released was based on trade conversations, a portion of the material was embellished or completely fabricated.”
2:29pm: Extensive trade discussion notes, apparently logged by Astros executives about their talks with other teams, have been leaked onto the site AnonBin here and here, with Deadspin breaking the story and Yahoo’s Jeff Passan verifying the authenticity of the logs. The earliest notes are from June 2013, and the latest are from March of this year. The Astros have yet to comment on the leak, which provides unprecedented detail into how the team values players and approaches trade discussions. According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, the Astros have been reaching out to people around baseball apologizing for the leaks, and plan to issue a statement soon.
A March feature by Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle outlines Ground Control, the Astros’ confidential internal database from which the trade discussion notes were likely taken. At this time, it’s unclear whether the information reached the Internet via a rogue employee of the team, or by some kind of security vulnerability in Ground Control. The trade discussion information, mostly from last summer and offseason, is somewhat dated in the fast-moving baseball hot stove world. The larger ramification is the breach of trust experienced by the many non-Astros executives cited in the notes. It’s unlikely any team would rule out the Astros as a trading partner based on this breach, but some teams could approach talks with added caution. Additionally, I imagine the many other teams with such highly sensitive material online are doubling down on security right now.
The Astros’ trade notes from last summer and offseason range from the blockbuster to the mundane; here are some highlights.
- On November 15th, Astros GM Jeff Luhnow expressed interest with Marlins GM Dan Jennings in slugger Giancarlo Stanton. From the notes: “[Jennings] said he doesn’t think he’ll trade Stanton and the only deal he could think of from us that would work would be [George] Springer and [Carlos] Correa. [Luhnow] said that would not work. [Luhnow] posited a deal around [Jarred] Cosart and [Delino] DeShields.” It’s not a big surprise that Luhnow rejected Jennings’ proposal out of hand, as Correa and Springer were ranked #4 and #19 on Keith Law’s top 100 prospects list for ESPN, and are major building blocks for Houston. That Luhnow didn’t appear to offer either player suggests he was mostly gauging Stanton’s price after an off-year with three years of control remaining. UPDATE: Jennings has commented to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, saying it’s fabricated that they ever offered Stanton to the Astros or any other team, also using the word “laughable.”
- Interest in Astros catcher Jason Castro was strong last offseason, with a few surprising suitors. The Blue Jays and Rangers reached out in mid-October to gauge Castro’s price, the White Sox had “definite high interest,” and Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik told Luhnow in November that he was getting calls from other teams asking if he could get Castro from the Astros for those teams. Zduriencik offered Dustin Ackley and was turned down.
- Notes for the Astros’ summer trade discussions begin at June 17th, 2013. The team ultimately went on to acquire Ronald Torreyes from the Cubs in June, and also dealt veterans Jose Veras, Bud Norris, and Justin Maxwell near the July deadline. The Astros did not end up acquiring any top 100-type prospects, but they sure did ask for the moon. For Norris, the Astros sought Kyle Crick and Clayton Blackburn from the Giants, Dylan Bundy or Kevin Gausman from the Orioles, Marcus Stroman and more from the Blue Jays, Xander Bogaerts, Allen Webster, Jackie Bradley Jr., or Garin Cecchini from the Red Sox, and Tyler Glasnow plus Luis Heredia or Nick Kingham from the Pirates. The Red Sox offered Ryan Lavarnway or Deven Marrero for Norris and were turned down. In the end, the Astros traded Norris and an international draft slot to the Orioles for L.J. Hoes, Josh Hader, and a 2014 competitive balance pick.
- When Nationals GM Mike Rizzo called to express interest in middling Astros starting pitcher Lucas Harrell, who had a 5.17 ERA at the time and nearly as many walks as strikeouts, “[Luhnow] told him we would still need a headliner like [Lucas] Giolito because we still value Harrell highly. Rizzo did not respond immediately.”
Harrell was designated for assignment, outrighted, and traded for a pittance nine months later, so the Astros might have overplayed their hand.
- “Untouchable” players from other teams were revealed through conversations with their executives. White Sox GM Rick Hahn wouldn’t consider trading Chris Sale, Jose Quintana, Jose Abreu, or Avisail Garcia. Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos considered Brett Lawrie off-limits. Pirates outfield prospect Gregory Polanco came up as well, in that GM Neal Huntington wouldn’t include him in any Norris deal. In December talks regarding Harrell, the Giants said they would not discuss Brandon Belt.
- More random notes: Mets executive Paul DePodesta asked Luhnow if the Astros would consider trading shortstop Jonathan Villar in a Daniel Murphy deal in December…the Marlins expressed interest in Jose Altuve, Matt Dominguez, and others in December.
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