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Kevin Towers Rumors
The Tigers have “kicked around” the idea of trading for a hitter to bolster the back end of their lineup, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports in his latest Full Count video. Finding a quality bat will be more difficult in the August waiver period, of course, and there also isn’t any position that Detroit would clearly be looking to upgrade. Rosenthal says the team is “pretty much set in the outfield,” though I’d argue that adding another outfielder to complement or even replace J.D. Martinez or Rajai Davis (both of whom were originally acquired to be part-timers) would help the Tigers down the stretch.
Here’s some more from Rosenthal’s video and a separate piece that examines which managers and general managers could be on the hot seat…
- Some of Jon Lester‘s former teammates believe the southpaw will sign with the Cubs this offseason. Lester, of course, has ties to Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer, and the Cubs’ recent waiver claim of Cole Hamels indicates that the team is prepared to spend big money on a top-tier starting pitcher.
- Had the Padres hired Yankees assistant GM Billy Eppler, the return of Kevin Towers to the San Diego organization “would’ve been almost automatic.” (The two worked together in New York.) Between Tony La Russa’s hiring in Arizona and the firing of Josh Byrnes in San Diego, rumors have swirled for weeks that Towers would find himself back with the Friars given his friendship with Padres president/CEO Mike Dee. As Rosenthal notes, Towers could still return under new GM A.J. Preller, though rival executives are split as to whether Towers’ presence would be a positive or a negative for Preller as a first-time general manager.
- Bud Black “would be out of work for about five minutes” if Preller decided to make a managerial change. Mike Dee recently told Rosenthal that Preller would decide on Black’s future with the Padres, though the fact that Black’s removal was “never seriously considered” by upper management would seem to bode well for the long-time skipper.
- While Reds GM Walt Jocketty is in the final year of his contract, “there is no indication that Jocketty wants to leave, or that owner Bob Castellini wants him out.” Rosenthal speculates that a reunion between Jocketty and La Russa in Arizona could be a possibility, though Jocketty might prefer to stay with the contending Reds rather than face a rebuilding job with the D’Backs.
- Ruben Amaro’s future as the Phillies‘ GM has been in question given the team’s struggles, which could also mean that manager Ryne Sandberg’s continued employment could also be up in the air. The Hall-of-Famer has “at times looks overmatched, struggling in his communications with veterans and with his in-game management,” Rosenthal writes, though he points out that Sandberg hasn’t been given much to work with on the roster. Sandberg is under contract through the end of the 2016 season.
- Could Jeff Luhnow’s job actually be in jeopardy? Rosenthal isn’t sure, though he notes that “internal tension seems unavoidable” in Houston. The Astros have seen little improvement on the field this season and Luhnow’s front office was widely criticized for its handling of the Brady Aiken negotiations.
- Mike Maddux’s Rangers contract is up at the end of the season, and while extension talks probably won’t take place until then, both Maddux and the team seem eager to see the long-time pitching coach remain in Texas.
Back in February, the D’Backs announced extensions for general manager Kevin Towers and manager Kirk Gibson that ran beyond the 2014 campaign, but the team declined to include the length of either deal, and subsequent reports neglected to shine any light on the contract terms. Now, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that each extension was a “unique” one-year deal that could potentially become longer deals.
There’s been quite a bit of speculation about the job security of both Towers and Gibson, given the club’s poor start to the 2014 season. Tony La Russa has been hired by the D’Backs to serve as the “Chief Baseball Officer” who will evaluate the club’s decision makers.
It remains to be seen how the length of the deals will impact either Towers or Gibson, but surely a one-year commitment could make it easier for the D’Backs to make a change if La Russa determines one is needed. As Heyman writes, Towers doesn’t feel that his role has been altered or reduced to that of a “psuedo-GM” since the hiring of La Russa, though he knows the ultimate decision is out of his hands. “Tony will make the decision,” Towers said to Heyman. “I’m a big boy.”
You probably will not be surprised to learn that Angels star Mike Trout has once again been rated the game’s most valuable asset by Dave Cameron of Fangraphs. Though he now comes with a long-term financial commitment, Trout has also promised away three more seasons of club control and remains highly underpaid for his services. Paul Goldschmidt of the Diamondbacks also made a leap, moving into the third overall slot on Cameron’s top fifty; the entire series is, of course, well worth a read.
Here’s the latest from the game’s West divisions:
- Mariners outfielder (and former second baseman) Dustin Ackley has drawn significant trade interest, tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Clubs are interested in a chance at a turnaround from a player who was once one of the game’s top prospects, notes Heyman. With Robinson Cano etched in stone at second and Seattle looking to upgrade its production in the corner outfield, Ackley could theoretically be included as part of a package or dealt away to create roster space.
- The Mariners plan to be on hand to watch Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo in his upcoming showcase, reports Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune. Of course, that does not mean that Seattle is in a unique position, as GM Jack Zduriencik explains. “Any time there’s someone out there showcasing, we’re going to have somebody there,” said Zduriencik. “This would be no different, but most other clubs will have somebody there as well.” Of course, the M’s are a particularly interesting team to watch with regard to Castillo given the team’s need for a right-handed hitting corner outfielder.
- The Giants are considering bringing in just-released second baseman Dan Uggla, CSNBayArea.com’s Andrew Baggarly reports on Twitter. While Marco Scutaro is back on the active roster, it may take some time to determine whether he’ll be a regular, healthy contributor. Indeed, John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle said in an appearance on the Sports Virus Podcast that it is “not a real optimistic situation” for Scutaro to hold down the club’s second base job.
- Veteran starter Tim Hudson told Shea at the All-Star break that he and the rest of the club would welcome the addition of an impact player, especially a bat to bolster the lineup. There “wouldn’t be a guy in the locker room” who “wouldn’t be for it,” said Hudson.
- The Padres have not reached out to the Diamondbacks to discuss a possible new role in the organization for current Arizona GM (and former San Diego GM) Kevin Towers, reports MLB.com’s Corey Brock. “I know and like him,” said executive chairman Ron Fowler. “He has had a great relationship with many people in all areas of the Padres’ organization. That said, we have not asked for permission from the D’backs to talk to Kevin. I don’t know how this story got started.”
Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp doesn’t necessarily want to be traded, but he would welcome a deal that would allow him to man center field on an everyday basis with a new team, agent Dave Stewart told Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports yesterday. Rosenthal notes, however, that GM Ned Colletti is a bit hesitant to part with Kemp’s right-handed bat, as that would leave the team with just one surefire right-handed power threat in the everyday lineup in 2015: Yasiel Puig. (Hanley Ramirez, of course, is a free agent at season’s end.) Another major roadblock is the roughly $107MM remaining on Kemp’s contract through the 2019 season.
Here’s more on the Dodgers and the rest of the NL West…
- Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles now debunks one of his own reports, tweeting that he’s been told the Dodgers are not interested in Jonathan Papelbon. Yesterday, a baseball source told Saxon he expected the club to pursue the Philadelphia closer.
- Rockies owner Dick Monfort appeared on 850 KOA-AM radio with Dave Logan and Susie Wargin, and MLB.com’s Thomas Harding provides some highlights from the discussion. Most notably, after Monfort defended GM Dan O’Dowd by saying he judged O’Dowd’s success on more than just the club’s win-loss record, he was asked who should take the blame for the record: “You would have to say it’s [Rockies senior vice president of Major League operations and assistant GM] Bill Geivett,” said Monfort. “He’s responsible for the Major League team. Now, the talent that gets into the Major League team, [that] is the responsibility of scouting and development.” Monfort declined to comment when asked if all of the club’s decision-makers would return next season, but he did say he “stand[s] by the job that everybody does.”
- The San Diego Union-Tribune’s staff runs down the list of each Padres GM candidate and explains the reasons that they have a chance at the job as well as the reason that each could lose out to another candidate. Since the publishing of that article, four candidates have already been eliminated, and the finalists now are Red Sox AGM Mike Hazen, Rangers AGM A.J. Preller, Yankees AGM Billy Eppler and MLB senior vice president of baseball operations Kim Ng.
- Earlier today, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported that Kevin Towers could join the Padres front office as a senior advisor if he his dismissed from his post with the D’Backs. Padres CEO Mike Dee now tells Rosenthal (Twitter links): “Any new hires in the front office will be up to the new GM. Kevin Towers is not a candidate for that position. Thus, any speculation about Kevin rejoining the Padres is just that, speculation.”
There’s been no shortage of coverage on the Diamondbacks since the surprising news that they’d hired Hall of Fame manager Tony La Russa as their new Chief Baseball Officer. Earlier today, one report indicated that opposing teams aren’t even sure whether La Russa or GM Kevin Towers is the go-to contact for trade negotiations. Here’s the latest on their leadership situation…
- Towers appeared on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM earlier today and said that he’s currently not sure how the labor will be broken down among the front office (98.7′s Vince Marotta has highlights and full audio available). The GM said he’s been on a scouting trip and will know more once he is able to sit down and talk with La Russa. Towers said he’s assuming the only current change is that he will report to La Russa instead of CEO Derrick Hall and is hoping not much will change. “I certainly don’t want to be a pseudo-GM,” he said.
- ESPN’s Buster Olney offers a different take in today’s edition of his Insider-only blog (subscription required). “[T]he simple truth,” Olney writes, “is that Diamondbacks general manager Kevin Towers lost his power when Arizona hired Tony La Russa.” Olney looks back at the surprising lack of stability in Arizona’s front office despite relatively strong success with a modest payroll. He writes that history tells us Arizona ownership will eventually get fed up with La Russa and turn on him.
- Olney’s colleague, Jerry Crasnick, says that one name to watch in potential managerial searches under La Russa’s watch will be Joe McEwing (Twitter link). Currently the third base coach for the White Sox, the former Mets utility player goes back a long way with La Russa.
Rangers left-hander Martin Perez underwent his Tommy John surgery earlier today, and everything “went as expected,” writes Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. The surgery was performed by Dr. Keith Meister, who performs most of the club’s surgeries. As the Rangers look to deal with that blow to their rotation, here’s more from baseball’s Western divisions…
- For the time being, Padres ace Andrew Cashner has avoided joining Perez on the list of series elbow injuries. Cashner underwent an MRI today, and while that test has conditioned the public to fear the worst, GM Josh Byrnes issued the following statement via press release: “After performing an MRI today on Andrew’s right elbow, our doctors have indicated to me that he has elbow soreness and irritation. Based on our doctors’ recommendation we will be proceeding with rest and rehabilitation for his recovery.”
- Though the Angels will soon need to make roster moves to get Kole Calhoun, David Freese and Dane De La Rosa back on the active roster, releasing struggling DH Raul Ibanez isn’t likely, reports MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez. General manager Jerry Dipoto wouldn’t say Ibanez will not be released, Gonzalez writes, but he expressed that the team will remain patient and voiced confidence in the aging slugger: “Raul has a track record. He has done this before. He has gone through cold spells, and he has gotten hot. There’s nobody here who believes Raul has had his last good days in the big leagues.”
- Diamondbacks president Derrick Hall “can hardly stop pinching [himself]” after the team’s hiring of Tony La Russa as its new chief baseball officer, writes Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. La Russa drew interest from multiple clubs for an executive role and turned down at least one offer, feeling that he wasn’t needed with that team, Heyman adds. He also writes that manager Kirk Gibson has close to a clean slate following the La Russa hire, and that La Russa will give Gibson and GM Kevin Towers until at least season’s end to help get the Snakes back on track.
Kevin Towers of the Diamondbacks isn’t sure whether he’ll still have his job when his team turns its fortunes around, Barry M. Bloom of MLB.com writes. “When you spend $110 million and you’re 9-22 at the end of April, I wouldn’t be happy, either,” says Towers. “I’m also disappointed, but I still believe in the core group. I think they will get better. Will I be around to see it? I don’t know.” Towers also says the team’s poor start must have managing partner Ken Kendrick wondering if the Diamondbacks have the right GM and manager in place. Here’s more from around the big leagues.
- The Angels have promoted first baseman C.J. Cron, who is in their lineup tonight as their DH, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register tweets. Baseball America’s Prospect Handbook 2014 rated Cron the Angels’ second-best prospect. The 2011 first-round pick got off to a great start this season for Triple-A Salt Lake, hitting .319/.369/.602 in his first 122 plate appearances there.
- The Braves feel like they’re getting a good deal in third baseman Chris Johnson‘s recent three-year extension, MLB.com’s Mark Bowman writes. “He was looking for stability and we were looking to have a solid player at a tough position to man,” says GM Frank Wren. “When this contract is over, he’s 32. We all feel like that is when they’re in their prime. So it was another example of tying up a player long term, but not extending beyond their prime.” Johnson will earn $4.75MM in his first year of arbitration eligibility this season, and the $23MM deal buys out Johnson’s last two years of arbitration eligibility, plus one year of free agency, with a reasonable option for a second.
- The Tigers aren’t yet sure what they’ll do to address their shortstop position, reports MLB.com’s Jason Beck. “We really haven’t approached those specific topics yet,” says GM Dave Dombrowski. Beck suggests that reinforces the perception that it’s unlikely the Tigers will sign free agent Stephen Drew before the draft in early June.
Marlon Byrd is glad the Mets gave him a chance last season, ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin reports. The Mets signed Byrd to a minor-league deal, and he had an improbable age-35 breakout season that resulted in a trade to the Pirates, followed by a two-year, $16MM deal with the Phillies. “They let me go out there and play my game. They gave me a chance to make a team,” says Byrd. “Hopefully I helped them out a little bit, me and Bucky bringing Vic Black back [in the trade] — a strong arm, a closer for the future. Hopefully we helped each other out.” Here are more notes from the National League.
- GM Kevin Towers is hopeful that the Diamondbacks will continue to back him despite the team’s poor start, Jack Magruder of FOX Sports Arizona reports (Twitter links). “I feel we have their support but I would imagine that they’re evaluating things as we’re evaluating things,” Towers says. “Hopefully we have their continued support and they are patient enough with this club to where … we turn it around.” There has been plenty of speculation about the futures of both Towers and manager Kirk Gibson. Whatever the team itself might be thinking about, though, it seems somewhat unlikely it would fire Towers just weeks before the June draft.
- The Dodgers have announced that they’ve promoted reliever Paco Rodriguez to the big leagues and optioned infielder Carlos Triunfel to Triple-A Albuquerque. As Kevin Baxter of the Los Angeles Times points out, the Triunfel move signals that the Dodgers are comfortable that infielder Hanley Ramirez is ready to play regularly. Ramirez had been suffering from a thumb injury.
The Diamondbacks’ players are rallying behind GM Kevin Towers and manager Kirk Gibson, Jack Magruder of FOX Sports Arizona writes. “The kind of start we got off to, I don’t know if you can explain it other than we have just played horribly,” says third baseman Eric Chavez. “It’s completely on the players. We take full responsibility for our lack of production on the field. We have to get it done in here, in this clubhouse.” Earlier this week, catcher Miguel Montero told MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert he would be “disappointed” if Towers or Gibson were to be fired.
The Diamondbacks are off to an 8-18 start (although they’ve won their last three games), which has led to speculation about whether Towers and Gibson might lose their jobs. As FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal recently pointed out, though, there are obstacles to firing them now — there are few internal candidates to replace them, and firing a GM six weeks before the draft can be disruptive.
The five-year, $32MM extension that Paul Goldschmidt signed last spring could now be "the most team-friendly [deal] in the game" in the wake of Goldschmidt's monster 2013 season, Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic writes. As Piecoro notes, the D'Backs saved themselves a lot of money by locking Goldschmidt up early, thus giving the club the financial flexibility to pursue the likes of Masahiro Tanaka and Shin-Soo Choo. Though Goldschmidt said he's satisfied with his contract, D'Backs CEO Derrick Hall said the team would be open adding more years to the contract beyond 2018, or reworking the deal entirely a few years down the road.
Here's some more from Arizona, all from Piecoro…
- The 2014 payroll projects to be the highest in Diamondbacks history, and GM Kevin Towers admitted there is little room for error if the team doesn't play up to expectations. "It's a critical probably two or three years here just because you've got guys that are kind of in their early 30s with long-term contracts, and it's not a lot of flexibility, if it's not the right recipe, to change it up," Towers said. While a losing season could put Arizona in the red, however, Hall said that the team can stand to lose some money now since their upcoming new TV contract will bring in major new revenues. "That's going to be a game-changer," Hall said. "We can bite the bullet a little bit the next couple of years to get there."
- If Bronson Arroyo is traded, Piecoro tweets, the $11MM team option in Arroyo's contract for the 2016 season increases to $13MM. The option would still cost Arroyo's team $4.5MM to be bought out.
- Arroyo, Hall, Towers, Kirk Gibson and D'Backs managing general partner Ken Kendrick all took part in a press conference today to officially announce Arroyo's signing. Towers said the decision to sign Arroyo came together quickly, and Arroyo said he appreciated how direct the D'Backs were with him, as he felt his free agent process was "a joke" and a "cat-and-mouse game." (Arroyo expressed his displeasure with his free agent experience last month to ESPN's Jerry Crasnick.)
- Arroyo said he had "one or two discussions" with the Reds about a return, though Cincinnati was only willing to offer a one-year deal that included a lot of deferred money.
- Kendrick discussed several topics, such as the recent extensions given to Towers and Gibson, the payroll increase and Arizona's pursuit of Tanaka.