Kevin Towers Rumors

NL Notes: D’backs, Rafael Soriano, Posey, Marlins

Seven years ago today, the Diamondbacks came to terms with Justin Upton, the first overall selection in the 2005 amateur draft, on a five-year, $6.1MM contract. The deal marked the largest signing bonus given in a minor league contract for a drafted player, who was not a free agent. Today, Upton is the prime trade target of the offseason. Just within the last 24 hours, we learned there is no match with the Padres, the Braves haven't engaged in Upton talks since before Christmas, and speculation that a deal will happen as soon as Arizona is offered the right mix of players. In non-Upton news involving the Diamondbacks and the rest of the Senior Circuit:


East Notes: Mets, Jays, Shields, Red Sox, Nationals

As it stands now, the Mets don't have a great deal of money to spend in free agency after exercising the options on David Wright and R.A. Dickey for 2013. However, the club could free up cash by opting to trade one or both if they are unable to come to terms on contract extensions. The Mets have a serious need for outfield help and multiple baseball officials told Mike Puma of the New York Post that they see Cody Ross as a possible free agent target for the team. Here's more from the AL and NL East:

  • Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers told MLB.com's Barry M. Bloom that "the Blue Jays have kicked the tires about possibly interviewing" Matt Williams for their managerial vacancy, but have yet to formally ask for permission. Williams is scheduled to meet with top Rockies officials at Coors Field and will be the final candidate to do so, according to Thomas Harding of MLB.com.
  • James Shields, who is set to become the highest-paid player in Rays' franchise history, is prepared to be a prime subject of the Hot Stove rumor mill this winter, writes the Tampa Bay Times' Marc Topkin. "Obviously my name's been thrown around a lot," the right-hander said. "I'm just going to go about my business and not really worry about it. Obviously I want to be a Ray. I've been here 12 years, this is my home. If it does happen, it'll be a sad day."
  • Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald suggests that the Red Sox should trade Jacoby Ellsbury as they are unlikely to come to terms with him on a contract extension. The Red Sox could find a partner in the Rangers as they may prefer to give Ellsbury a long-term commitment rather than Josh Hamilton and can afford to part with shortstop Elvis Andrus
  • The Red Sox are bolstering their scouting department in anticipation of having, for the first time since 1993 and just the second time since 1967, a top ten pick in the amateur draft, reports WEEI.com's Alex Speier. The team rehired John Booher, the person most directly involved in the scouting process of Ellsbury in 2005 and Nick Hagadone in 2007, and hired former MLB pitcher Brian Moehler as an area scout for Georgia.
  • Tom Kotchman, who resigned last week as a manager and scout in the Angels organization, interviewed with the Red Sox on Thursday, tweets Conor Glassey of Baseball America. Glassey points to former Angels scouting director Eddie Bane's position with Boston as the club's new Special Assistant to Player Personnel for the mutual interest. 
  • The Red Sox wanted to hold on to reliever Michael Olmstead, but their current 40-man roster crunch made it impossible, explains Alex Speier of WEEI.com. The 6'7", 245-pound right-hander signed with the Brewers as a minor league free agent last night.
  • For now, people familiar with the Nationals’ thinking expect them to either trade arbitration-eligible John Lannan or allow him to walk, writes Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post. The Nats could instead convert Christian Garcia from a reliever to a starter to fill out the rotation, but his history of arm trouble may make that too risky.

Edward Creech contributed to this post.


Diamondbacks Notes: Drew, Hall, Towers

The Diamondbacks enjoy a night off before beginning a weekend interleague series with their rather frequent trade partners, the Athletics.  Here's the latest from the desert…

  • In the wake of D'Backs managing partner Ken Kendrick's critical comments on Tuesday, Stephen Drew told MLB.com's Steve Gilbert that while he "understands Ken's frustration," the shortstop was "disappointed that he questioned my integrity."  Drew said he has been diligently pursuing his rehab and wants to be back on the field as soon as possible.  "I want to be able to play the game that I've loved my whole life again. No one wants me to be out there more than me. I'm doing everything in my power," Drew said.
  • Arizona CEO Derrick Hall addressed a number of topics in a chat with fans on MLB.com, including Kendrick's comments, a possible Trevor Bauer callup and the possibility of signing Ian Kennedy and Daniel Hudson to contract extensions.  "We have discussions regularly about long-term deals with some of our pitchers. It is to our advantage to lock some of these guys down longer term to keep this group intact," Hall said.  The club explored such deals last winter but couldn't get anything finalized before Opening Day.
  • GM Kevin Towers says it's too early for the Snakes to give up and explore trading veteran players, reports MLB.com's Steve Gilbert.  "I'm always looking at trades, regardless of we're winning or losing or where we're at," Towers said. "I'm looking not only in the near future, but long term as well. I've already kicked some tires on some things. I'm not saying anything is close, but you're always looking, always keeping an eye on down below where your depth is."
  • MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith collected another batch of Diamondbacks notes earlier today.


D’Backs Extend Towers, Gibson

The Diamondbacks have rewarded GM Kevin Towers and manager Kirk Gibson for a successful 2011 season, signing the pair to new contracts. Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports that Towers and Gibson are both signed through 2014 with team options for 2015-16. Towers had been signed through 2012 with two two-year options, while Gibson had been signed through 2013.

MLBTR's Transaction Tracker offers a complete look back at Towers' moves. He rebuilt the team's bullpen and bench last offseason and it appears that he will focus on second base and adding depth this offseason. The D'Backs won the National League West this year, Gibson's first full season. Arizona posted a 94-68 regular season record before losing to the Brewers in the Division Series.


West Notes: Matsui, Angels, Gibson, D’Backs

Here are a handful of interesting notes from around baseball's West divisions:

  • The Athletics' interest in re-signing impending free agent DH Hideki Matsui is waning, according to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. Oakland wants to get younger, according to Slusser, and Matsui, now 37, doesn't fit that bill. A return isn't entirely impossible, though, and A's GM Billy Beane will meet with Matsui's agent, Arn Tellem of Wasserman Media Group, next week.
  • Angels owner Arte Moreno said that the Halos' 2012 payroll will be in the $130-140MM range, according to Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times (Twitter link), which would prevent them from pursuing any expensive free agents. In the Angels' installment of MLBTR's Offseason Outlook series, Ben Nicholson-Smith calculated that the Angels will have about $120MM on the books before accounting for players making the league minimum, so new GM Jerry Dipoto will have about $10-20MM to play with.
  • Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson's 2013 club option vested when the Snakes reached the playoffs this year, according to Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. The D'Backs almost certainly would have picked up the option anyway considering Gibson's success in his first full season as skipper, but Arizona's postseason berth assured it. Gibson's coaches have all been extended through 2013, as well.
  • D'Backs GM Kevin Towers will focus on position players this offseason rather than pitchers, according to Steve Gilbert of MLB.com, with second base being a key spot of interest. It's been expected that Aaron Hill's $8MM 2012 club option will be declined, though Arizona would like to re-sign him, according to Gilbert.
  • Towers doesn't expect to find a new vice president of scouting and player development, the position vacated by Dipoto, according to Piecoro. As well, Towers and Dipoto will hash out which executives the latter will be allowed to bring to Anaheim, with director of international scouting Carlos Gomez expected to be a person of interest in those talks. "That'd be a tough one," Towers said. "He's good. International guys are hard to find, especially young guys. He is under contract. I plan on offering him even a second year."

D’Backs Will Look Into Exercising Towers’ Options

The Diamondbacks went from having the third worst record in baseball last year to the third best record in the NL this year thanks to the moves made by new GM Kevin Towers. Because of that improvement, CEO Derrick Hall told Nick Piecoro of The Arizona Republic that he'll look into exercising the first two-year club option (for 2013 and 2014) in Towers' contract this offseason. Towers also has another two-year club option for 2015 and 2016.

When Arizona hired Towers last offseason, they only gave him a two-year contract rather than the four-year deal most GMs receive. "I didn't want to put the organization in a position where we had another long-term deal in case it didn't work out the way we hoped it would," said Hall, referring to previous GM Josh Byrnes. Byrnes had five years left on his contract when he was fired last summer.

Towers told Piecoro that he is very happy with his current situation, and that he's not too concerned about his contract. "To me, I'm at a point in my career where I don't worry about contracts or lengths of contracts as long as the people that I work for trust the job that I'm doing and like me being here," he said. "This is where I want to be. I want to be here, not only because I like the working environment, but I like the ownership, I like the CEO and my boss, and I like where we're headed."

Our Transaction Tracker shows all of the moves Towers has made with the Diamondbacks. Known for his bullpen-building skills, Towers turned a historically bad relief corps (5.74 ERA in 2010) into a strength (3.85 ERA in 2011) by signing J.J. Putz, trading for David Hernandez and Brad Ziegler, and selecting Joe Paterson in the Rule 5 Draft. He also signed Stephen Drew to a two-year contract that bought out his remaining years of arbitration-eligibility.


Odds & Ends: Cubs, Towers, Phillies, Torre, Lee

Tuesday night links, as Scott Baker makes his first start for the Twins in nearly three weeks….

  • Jim Hendry will officially interview Ryne Sandberg for the Cubs' manager job, reports Bruce Levine of ESPNChicago. According to Levine's sources, the club also plans to talk to Pat Listach, Bob Melvin, and Bob Brenly.
  • A "reliable source" told Jim Bowden (Twitter link) that the D'Backs are set to offer Kevin Towers their GM job. Jack Magruder of FOX Sports Arizona says no job offer has been made yet, though the team met with Towers again today (Twitter link).
  • Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly reports (via Twitter) that the Phillies have signed Franklyn Zavala, a 16-year-old Dominican pitcher, for a $330K bonus.
  • Understandably, Joe Torre's comments about the possibility of managing the Mets didn't sit well with current manager Jerry Manuel, as Andy McCullough of the Newark Star-Ledger writes. Torre apologized for his comments, telling Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times that he's "closing the door on managing the Mets – and probably everybody else" (Twitter links).
  • Astros manager Brad Mills avoided the question of whether Carlos Lee would play more first base in 2011, says MLB.com's Pete Kerzel. Alyson Footer, the team's director of social media, notes in a pair of tweets that first base is Lee's strongest position and she'd like to see him there next year.
  • Pat Gillick won't rule out taking another general manager job if the right situation arises, writes Danny Knobler of CBS Sports.
  • Craig Counsell tells Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Twitter link) that he'll be back in 2011, either for the Brewers or another club.

Odds & Ends: Backe, Ellis, Crisp, Macha, Holliday

Some links to check out as the Rockies try to win their ninth straight…


Baseball Blogs Weigh In: Hendry, Lugo, Towers

On this day back in 2003, the Tigers became the first team in baseball history to have four pitchers make their Major League debut in the same game. The starter was 20-year-old Jeremy Bonderman, who gave way to 22-year-old Wil Ledezma, 25-year-old Chris Spurling, and 23-year-old Matt Roney before "veteran" closer Matt Anderson entered the game. Anderson was just 25-years-old at the time, but the first overall pick of the 1997 draft already had 210 big league appearances to his name. 

The Tigers went on the finish the season 43-119, and were rewarded by selecting Justin Verlander with the second overall pick the following season. Here's this week's set of links from around the web…

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Odds & Ends: Lowell, Ohka, Towers, Washburn

Leftover links for Tuesday evening….