Kevin Kouzmanoff Rumors

Non-Tender Candidate: Kevin Kouzmanoff

At first glance, Kevin Kouzmanoff's 2010 numbers look like exactly what the Athletics must have expected when they acquired him from the Padres in January. His .256/.291/.404 slash line is nearly identical to 2009's .255/.302/.420, and his power numbers have remained fairly consistent for his entire career; in his three years in San Diego, Kouzmanoff hit 18, 23, and 18 homers, along with 30, 31, and 31 doubles. His totals in Oakland so far this year? 14 and 31. Throw in his best defensive season, according to UZR, and it would seem that the 29-year-old should have no worries about being tendered a contract this winter.

There are a few areas of concern though, that the Athletics will undoubtedly take into account. For one, Kouzmanoff has seen his OPS gradually decline since his rookie year, down to .696 this year from .786 in 2007. And while Oakland's Coliseum is hardly a hitter's park, presumably the team was hoping that getting away from Petco would help Kouzmanoff's offense a little. During his Padres years, Kouzmanoff's OPS was typically about 100 points higher on the road – this year, his home and road marks are both below .700.

The Athletics were willing to trade for Kouzmanoff and pay him $3.1MM for his first arbitration-eligible season. Given his impressive defensive performance and only a slight dip in offensive production, perhaps the A's will be happy to tender the third baseman a contract, even taking into account an arbitration raise. But as a starting corner infielder with a sub-.700 OPS, Kouzmanoff has to be considered a non-tender candidate heading into the offseason.

Do you expect Kouzmanoff to be non-tendered after the season? Click here to weigh in, and click here to view the results.


Where Could Alex Gordon Go?

Let's face it: if the Royals aren't going to give Alex Gordon a chance to play regularly when they are 11-21, 10 games out of first, and weeks shy of Memorial Day, he has fallen out of favor with the club. After just 38 plate appearances, the Royals sent Gordon - the player they once selected him second overall - to Triple-A to make way for… Alberto Callaspo.

But Gordon, still just 26, is a career .320/.433/.577 hitter in the minor leagues. Clearly, some team should take a flier on Gordon as a possible long-term answer at third base. Which teams are best suited to do so, and how much is it likely to cost?

  • The Phillies seem like an interesting landing spot for Gordon, though not at first blush. Placido Polanco, after all, is signed through 2012. But Gordon could be an upgrade from Greg Dobbs at the very least. If Gordon fulfills his promise, the Phils could attempt to deal Polanco. More to the point, Gordon seems to fit the Phillies' template- his acquisition would be akin to the buy-low on Jayson Werth- and Philadelphia has depth in the farm system. A couple of their secondary pitching prospects could get it done.
  • The Orioles have a combined zero homers from Rhyne Hughes and Garrett Atkins, so Gordon could appeal to them as an option at first. Corner infield prospects Brandon Snyder and Josh Bell lurk in the minors, but with Miguel Tejada locked up for just one year, Gordon would provide the O's with depth and upside.
  • The Athletics don't have a ton in the way of a present or future player blocking Gordon. Kevin Kouzmanoff is a decent option, but he hardly has Gordon's upside at this point. With a number of nearly-ready pitching prospects to integrate into a young staff, the Athletics could well deal from pitching depth for Gordon, too.
  • The Padres are another possible landing spot, with Chase Headley unlikely to keep up his batting average-fueled start. San Diego has several third base prospects, including James Darnell, who Baseball America ranked as the organization's third-best prospect heading into the season. Still, none of the Padres prospects have even proven themselves at Double-A, so acquiring Gordon and giving him the chance to win the third base job wouldn't impact any of them in the short-term. It would also echo the acquisition of another buy-low, former top draft pick: Adrian Gonzalez. A package of one of the Padres' third base prospects and a pitcher should be enough to pry Gordon loose.

Players To Avoid Arbitration: Tuesday

Noon ET today was the deadline for both the team and player to submit their salary figures for arbitration, however the two sides can come to an agreement at any point before the actual hearing. The hearings are scheduled for the first week of February.

We'll keep track of the players who avoid arbitration today by agreeing to deals here. Make sure you check back in for updates, and be sure to click the "Continue Reading" link to see today's full list of settlements.  Yesterday's list can be found here.

  • Kevin Baxter of the Los Angeles Times reports that the Angels avoided arbitration with Mike Napoli and Reggie Willits by signing the duo to one-year deals.  Napoli will earn $3.6MM in 2010 with a $100K bonus if he makes 120 starts.  Willits' contract is worth $625K. 
  • Zach Duke's one-year contract with Pittsburgh is worth $4.3MM with no performance bonuses, tweets Dejan Kovacevic of The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
  • The Padres and reliever Mike Adams have agreed to a contract, reports MLB.com's Corey Brock (via Twitter).  Brock's follow-up tweet says Adams' deal is worth $1MM, virtually splitting the difference between San Diego's $875K offer and Adams' $1.2MM demands.
  • Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star Tribune tweets that the Twins have agreements in place with all eight of their arbitration eligible players.  In a follow-up tweet, Christensen reports that Francisco Liriano agreed to a one-year deal worth $1.6MM and Jesse Crain agreed to a one-year contract worth $2MM.
  • Marc Carig of the New Jersey Star-Ledger reports that the Mets avoided arbitration with reliever Sean Green (via Twitter).  The one-year deal was worth $975K, according to the New York Daily News' Anthony McCarron.
  • The Tigers avoided arb with Gerald Laird and Zach Miner as well according to James Jahnke of The Detroit Free Press.  MLB.com's Jason Beck tweets the details on the one-year contracts: Laird will earn $3.95MM, Miner will earn $950K.
  • Christensen tweets that the Twins avoided arb with Brendan Harris, signing him to a two year deal worth $3.2MM with another $650K in possible incentives.
  • The Tigers and Bobby Seay avoided arbitration according to MLB.com's Jason Beck (via Twitter), agreeing to a one year deal worth $2.475MM.
  • Thesier tweets that Matt Guerrier agreed to a one year deal worth $3.15MM with the Twins, avoiding arb.
  • Amalie Benjamin of The Boston Globe tweets that the Red Sox have avoided arbitration with Ramon Ramirez and Manny Delcarmen, with Delcarmen getting $905K plus incentives according to Joe McDonald of The Providence Journal. Boston avoided arb with Jonathan Papelbon as well.

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Odds & Ends: Schumaker, Chapman, Thome

Sunday linkage…

  • Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reflects on Eric Byrnes' time with the D'Backs.
  • Skip Schumaker tells MLB.com's Matthew Leach that he and the Cardinals are nearing an agreement on a 2010 contract.
  • MLB.com's Joe Frisaro tweets that the Marlins were willing to offer $20MM to Aroldis Chapman.  
  • MLB.com's Scott Merkin writes that a handful of teams have contacted Jim Thome, including the Rays, though nothing is imminent. 
  • Owner Tom Ricketts defended general manager Jim Hendry this Saturday at the Cubs' annual convention, according to Melissa Isaacson of ESPNChicago.com.
  • Shi Davidi from the Canadian Press spoke with both Justin Morneau and Jeff Francis at Baseball Canada's Annual Awards Banquet Saturday. Morneau expects to begin full workouts in a couple of weeks as a season-ending stress fracture in his back appears to have healed without issue. Francis is recovering from shoulder surgery but expects to be ready for Spring Training.
  • Bill Ladson tweets that Ryan Zimmerman thinks the Nationals are having their best offseason since he's been with the organization. Some of the larger moves we've seen the Nats make include signing Jason MarquisMatt Capps, and Ivan Rodriguez, in addition to trading for Brian Bruney.
  • Eric Chavez told Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle that he is comfortable with shifting to a utility role after the addition of third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff.
  • Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated (via Twitter) "overheard" that the Brewers will sign at least one more pitcher.  Recently, Milwaukee outrighted pitcher Omar Aguilar to Triple-A, though assistant GM Gord Ash claimed it wasn't in anticipation of an acquisition.
  • ESPN's Buster Olney writes that the Marlins didn't give Josh Johnson an extension just to appease the "Powers That Be".  Those within the organization expected the deal to get done well before the joint press release from the commissioner's office and the players' union.
  • Olney also writes that the Marlins are still looking for bullpen help and will sift through the remaining free agent relievers, including Kiko CaleroFlorida declined to offer arbitration to Calero, to avoid giving him a raise on his $500K salary in 2009.

Odds & Ends: Kouzmanoff, Taguchi, Draft

Some links on this frosty Saturday night…

  • Nick Piecoro of The Arizona Republic spoke to Diamondbacks general manager Josh Byrnes, who took full responsibility for Eric Byrnes' three-year, $30MM contract.  Arizona designated Byrnes for assignment on Friday.
  • The Rays have four remaining arbitration-eligible players in Jason Bartlett, Matt Garza, J.P. Howell, and B.J. Upton.  The club will stick with their policy of cutting off negotiations after exchanging figures, which happens at noon on Tuesday, writes Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times.  Tampa Bay does this to try to bring about a settlement and to avoid settling at an artificial midpoint between the two figures.
  • Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com isn't terribly upset that the O's weren't the club to land Kevin Kouzmanoff.  Kubatko understands frustrations over the Orioles' lack of production at third, but notes that the 28-year-old's offensive production was nothing to write home about in 2009.  Kouzmanoff hit .255/.302/.420 with 18 HRs for the Padres last season.
  • As we heard earlier today, a committee is being formed to work on changes to the amateur draft.  The committee will look into making the draft worldwide and instituting a slotting system.  Mike Axisa of River Ave. Blues doesn't see any changes being made until after 2011, when the collective bargaining agreement expires.
  • The Orix Buffaloes are close to signing So Taguchi, according to a report from Sponichi passed along by Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker (via Twitter).  The 40-year-old emerged with the Cubs at the end of last season, making 12 plate appearances in six games.

Athletics Acquire Kevin Kouzmanoff

The A's acquired Kevin Kouzmanoff and Eric Sogard from the Padres for Scott Hairston and Aaron Cunningham. Oakland GM Billy Beane dealt from outfield depth to add certainty at third base, while San Diego GM Jed Hoyer strengthened his outfield with a former Padre.

Kouzmanoff, 28, hit .255/.302/.420 in 573 plate appearances for the Padres last year. He's arbitration-eligible for the first time. His glovework grades out as slightly above average, according to UZR/150.

Baseball America ranked Sogard as San Diego's 17th best prospect coming into the 2009 season, before he hit .293/.370/.400 with more walks (58) than strikeouts (47) in Double-A.

Former Padres GM Kevin Towers dealt Hairston to the A's in July.  Now the 30-year-old heads back to San Diego. He hit well with the Padres last year but struggled with the A's. He's arbitration-eligible for the second time.

Cunningham, 24 in April, spent most of '09 at Triple A where he hit .302/.372/.479.  ESPN's Jerry Crasnick mentions in a tweet that Cunningham recently underwent surgery for a sports hernia. This is Cunningham's third time being dealt. 

MLBTR first reported the trade, with Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle naming the players involved and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports pointing to the deal's completion.

Our apologies for initially naming Gio Gonzalez as part of this deal.


Padres Avoid Arbitration With Heath Bell

The Padres have officially avoided arbitration with their closer, agreeing to terms on a $4MM salary with Heath Bell, according to MLB.com's Corey Brock. It's a substantial raise over the $1.255 salary Bell made last year, but the righty had an All-Star season.

Brock tweets that the Padres don't have plans to offer Bell or Kevin Kouzmanoff multi-year deals. Both players could be trade bait this summer.


Odds & Ends: Draft, Kouzmanoff, Lincecum, Street

A few Saturday links…

  • Via Twitter, Bob Elliott of The Toronto Sun spoke to a scouting director who indicated that a committee was forming to work on instituting a world-wide draft and slotting system. "This time it has a chance," said the scouting director.
  • Athletics Nation gives A's fans four reasons why they should approve of the Kevin Kouzmanoff-Scott Hairston swap.
  • MLB.com's Doug Miller says that whispers of a $20MM arbitration award for Tim Lincecum have "echoed loudly throughout baseball." Obviously, that would be an unprecedented award and break every arbitration record known to man, but it would also make Lincecum the third highest paid pitcher in baseball next season, behind C.C. Sabathia and Johan Santana.
  • In a mailbag piece at MLB.com, Thomas Harding says that Huston Street could be a trade candidate if the Rockies drop out of the race and are unable to sign him to an extension. Colorado offered Street a three-year deal earlier this offseason.
  • The 30-day exclusive negotiating window between the Hicks Sports Group and the Chuck Greenberg/Nolan Ryan group expired yesterday without the Rangers being sold. Maury Brown at The Biz of Baseball has the joint statement released by the two parties, which indicates that they are on the verge of an agreement.
  • Tommy Rancel at DRays Bay estimates some arbitration values for Tampa's four remaining arb-eligible players.

Padres, Cubs Eyeing Jermaine Dye

THURSDAY, 8:06am: MLB.com's Corey Brock has a source saying a Dye deal is "low on likelihood" for the Padres.  More likely would be Randy Winn or Jerry Hairston Jr., to whom the Padres have made offers.  Another mild possibility for Dye is the Cubs.  The Chicago Tribune's Paul Sullivan says they're looking at him for a platoon/backup/DH role.

WEDNESDAY, 11:02am: The Padres are showing interest in free agent outfielder Jermaine Dye, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports.  However, Morosi believes the Padres would have to trade a veteran to be able to afford him.  He names Heath Bell and Kevin Kouzmanoff as trade candidates.

Dye isn't a great fit for a National League club, given his outfield defense.  And he's not the type of free agent you make other moves to accomodate.  Given the limited interest, I can't see him getting much more than $3MM.


Urban On Athletics, Giants

CSNBayArea.com's Mychael Urban checks in with the latest on the A's and Giants.

  • After failing to sign Adrian Beltre, the A's continue to seek a third baseman.  The team has considered attempting to trade for the Pirates' Andy LaRoche or the Padres' Kevin Kouzmanoff.  Neither player hit for much power in 2009, however (Kouz hit 18 home runs, but slugged only .420).  Adam Kennedy is said to be Plan D or E.
  • The A's are still talking to Jack Cust's agent, though they've yet to make an offer.  Regarding the idea of returning to the A's after being non-tendered, Cust told Urban, "Stranger things have happened."  Urban senses Cust would give the A's the opportunity to match any offer.
  • Urban finds Cust a less-than-ideal fit for the Giants.  He likes Adam LaRoche, or perhaps Miguel Tejada if LaRoche's demands remain high.