Kevin Towers Rumors

NL West Notes: Kemp, Papelbon, Geivett, Padres

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.” 

Diamondbacks Links: Towers, La Russa, Manager

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.

West Notes: Perez, Cashner, Ibanez, 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.


Quick Hits: Towers, Cron, Johnson, Tigers

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.

NL Notes: Byrd, Towers, Ramirez

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.

D-Backs Players Standing Behind Towers, Gibson

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.


Diamondbacks Notes: Goldschmidt, Payroll, Arroyo

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.

NL West Notes: Uribe, Ibanez, Young, Morse, Ichiro

In an Insider post (subscription required), Jim Bowden of ESPN and MLB Network Radio names eight players who could be traded during the Winter Meetings. The Rays' David Price tops the list with Bowden's possible destinations starting with the Dodgers. The Dodgers also have two of their own on the list: outfielders Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier. Here's more on the Boys in Blue and the rest of the NL West: 

  • Re-signing Juan Uribe figures to be at or near the top of the Dodgers' to-do list at the Winter Meetings, according to Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times.
  • Uribe is not seeking a three-year contract and the holdup with the Dodgers is either their desire for a one-year deal or money, tweets ESPNLosAngeles.com's Mark Saxon
  • Troy Renck of the Denver Post tweeted confirmation of an earlier report the Rockies are interested in Raul Ibanez, but cautioned nothing is serious at this point. Renck also noted Michael Young is on the club's radar for a bench role.  
  • The Rockies are also becoming more serious about Michael Morse along with the Giants, Marlins, and Rangers, reports the New York Post's Joel Sherman (Twitter links).
  • There's been speculation the Giants could be a fit for Ichiro Suzuki, but Ken Davidoff of the New York Post tweets he doesn't believe that's the case.
  • The demands of the trade market will determine what course Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers takes during the Winter Meetings, reports azcentral.com's Nick Piecoro. "Most people are asking for quite a bit right now, I'm not real excited about what I'd have to give up in the trade market," Towers said. "I'm hoping maybe the price starts to come down. If not, then I'll turn to more free agents."
  • Left-hander Erick Threets is looking to play in Asia, tweets Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times. The 32-year-old spent 2013 with the Long Island Ducks of the independent Atlantic League pitching to a 7.04 ERA, 5.9 K/9, and 7.5 BB/9 in 23 innings covering 27 relief outings. Threets' last MLB affiliation was with the Dodgers' Triple-A team 2012 and his last appearance in a big league game was in 2010 for the White Sox

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.