Kevin Gregg Rumors
Baseball's central divisions have four clear sellers in the Cubs, Brewers, White Sox, and Twins. At seven games out, the Royals are on the bubble. The team sees "a winning record as an important secondary goal even if they don’t reach postseason," according to Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star, so they may stand pat. Meanwhile, the Tigers, Indians, Cardinals, Pirates, and Reds are the five central division buyers. Links from both divisions...
- In a Q&A mailbag, a reader asks Dutton how hot the seat is under Royals GM Dayton Moore. Dutton writes that despite fan criticism for the team's longtime decision maker, there's nothing to suggest his job is actually in jeopardy. Elsewhere in the mailbag, Dutton notes that there is no indication the team is shopping starter Ervin Santana, and that he does not expect the team to reduce payroll next year.
- "We ought to know and be right on the first couple of picks. But it's those middle-round guys that your scouts push and say, 'We need to get this guy,' who make your organization," Royals senior advisor to the GM Mike Arbuckle told ESPN's Jerry Crasnick in regard to former 10th round draft pick Greg Holland, now the team's All-Star closer.
- "Trying to think like another team, usually the guys who are traded are going better than I am," White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko told Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune on his minor league rehab assignment in the Southern League. Konerko, 37, is battling a back injury in the last year of his contract with the White Sox.
- Cubs closer Kevin Gregg is on the trading block alongside starter Matt Garza, and Gregg seems ready to jump to a contender. "Garza’s a headline piece, but I think that in the baseball world, people are looking for relievers. I hope I’m on that list," Gregg told Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times recently. The 35-year-old has enjoyed an improbable rise back to prominence and the Cubs' closer job, though he has a 7.36 ERA over the last month.
- Speaking to Tom Singer of MLB.com, Pirates GM Neal Huntington explained that his strong farm system gives him the confidence to make trades without depleting it. Huntington didn't rule out rental players, saying, "We've never gone in with a premeditated view on rentals, whether we want or don't want them. We've gone into the Deadline to impact that year's club as best we could. Now, while it does not make a ton of sense for us to give up an elite prospect for a two-month rental, you've always got to have the majority of attention on today."
Zach Links contributed to this post.
Former Colorado Rockie Ryan Spilborghs has been blogging for The Denver Post about his experiences playing for the Seibu Lions in Japan this season, and he weighs in on the issue of PEDs in his latest post. While Spilborghs doesn't approve of PED use, he suggests that baseball's long season can push players too far without giving them enough time to recover. A better model may be the schedule adopted by Japan's NPB league, which has teams playing 144 games in about 180 days, Spilborghs says.
Some more notes from around the senior circuit...
- Ike Davis will rejoin the Mets on Friday for their matchup with the Brewers, a source told Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com. Davis was demoted on June 10 after hitting just .161/.242/.258 in 207 plate appearances, but work with Triple-A coaches to address a hitch in Davis' swing was apparently successful, as the first baseman has compiled a .293/.424/.667 line with the Las Vegas 51s. MLBTR's Tim Dierkes speculated in a May post that Davis could be a non-tender candidate this offseason.
- The Dodgers are expected to activate outfielder Carl Crawford from the DL as soon as Friday, reports Ken Gurnick of MLB.com. Los Angeles will soon be faced with a long-anticipated glut of regular outfielders, with Crawford joining Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, and sensation Yasiel Puig on the active roster. Manager Don Mattingly acknowledges that it will be a "sticky" situation to manage. It remains to be seen whether the Dodgers will consider moving Andre Ethier, who was given a five-year, $85MM extension just over a year ago.
- While Yovani Gallardo of the Brewers has been the subject of trade dialogue, Adam McCalvy of MLB.com reports that the righty is determined not to let the rumors affect him. "We all hear things. I'm not going to lie. ... But basically I just leave it at that. I hear them, and then don't think about it too much." Gallardo did acknowledge, however, that he had become aware of some of the teams on his no-trade list.
- Though the loss of Jesse Crain to the DL dampens the reliever market, a number of potentially available NL hurlers could help bolster a contender's bullpen, Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports notes. The Cubs' Kevin Gregg has earned 14 saves in 15 opportunities, while the Brewers' Francisco Rodriguez is a perfect seven for seven in save chances and could help the Tigers, Rosenthal says. John Axford, Milwaukee's former closer, could also be a useful piece.
- The Marlins could offer Steve Cishek, Mike Dunn, or Ryan Webb, as they have power arms in the pipeline and "never mind trading relievers," according to Rosenthal. Both Cishek and Dunn have been effective for the Fish and become eligible for arbitration after this season. Miami could have a tougher time finding a taker for Webb, however, as he's shown discouraging strikeout and walk trends.
- Rosenthal is also less high on the Phillies' Jonathan Papelbon, noting his high salary and declining strikeout rate, and the Brewers' Michael Gonzalez, a lefty who opponents have managed a .746 OPS against despite his high K/9 rate.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports has a lengthy new article discussing All-Stars, some of the game's top young hitters and a plethora of hot stove info. Here are some highlights...
- Rival executives around the league are critical of the Mariners for rushing their top prospects, but Rosenthal notes that Nick Franklin has been more than up to the challenge, and Brad Miller earned his promotion with his minor league performance. Regarding the struggling Mike Zunino, GM Jack Zduriencik told Rosenthal: "We planned all along to get Mike to Seattle at some point in July ... He wasn't expected to be a big contributor offensively if it was now, July, September ... but he has held his own, and what he is receiving now will set him up for 2014 and beyond."
- Multiple scouts have questioned the work ethic of the Brewers' players, with one telling Rosenthal "there's a lot of quit on that team." Rosenthal writes that it isn't manager Ron Roenicke's fault that Ryan Braun, Corey Hart and Aramis Ramirez have been injured, but the negative reports could be an "ominous sign" for Roenicke. Rosenthal tweets a correction, noting that Roenicke is signed through 2014, not through 2013 as he initially reported.
- The Yankees aren't planning a fire sale, but if they did, they'd have some of the most attractive trade chips in the game. The Yankees could part with Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes, however, and Rosenthal adds Curtis Granderson's name to the mix, assuming the injured outfielder gets healthy in time.
- The Rays aren't looking to add a starting pitcher with both David Price and Alex Cobb likely to return in the near future. If the Rays make any moves at all, they'll be for impact players regardless of position.
- The Cubs are "all but certain" to trade pending free agents Matt Garza, Kevin Gregg and Scott Feldman, but they're not in a rush to deal Nate Schierholtz and David DeJesus, both of whom are controlled beyond 2013.
With nearly half the season in the books, the Washington Post's Barry Svrluga took a look at the offseason's biggest bargains. He starts his list with Marlon Byrd of the Mets, who signed a minor league deal but has contributed 12 home runs and a .258/.309/.493 line in 237 plate appearances.
- The next player to get a nod in the article is the Pirates' Francisco Liriano, who inked an incentive-driven deal with Pittsburgh. He has been nothing short of stellar thus far, carrying a 2.30 ERA over 54 2/3 innings and 10.0 K/9 against 3.6 BB/9. Liriano's excellence has combined with a stunning earlygoing for Jeff Locke, continued renaissance for A.J. Burnett, and now the emergence of top prospect Gerrit Cole to give the Buccos a surprisingly excellent rotation.
- Of course, the Bucs just became the first MLB team to fifty wins after decades of poor performances. While the team may not necessarily have any obvious areas that require immediate attention, then, one must wonder whether it will contemplate any bold moves to seize the opportunity this year. As MLB.com's Tom Singer writes, Pittsburgh will be very interesting to watch as the trade deadline approaches. Manager Clint Hurdle explained: "You always need to look and see if you can add to the team strength. ... You pay attention to chemistry, and try to do the right thing."
- In spite of the rotation's excellence thus far, then, one wonders whether it could be an area that the club looks to improve. While the staff currently sports the league's second-lowest ERA, it ranks 11th in FIP, 18th in xFIP, and 20th in WAR. (All links to Fangraphs leaderboards.) Locke, in particular, looks destined for some pretty heavy regression, with his 2.06 ERA belied by a 3.85 FIP and 4.11 xFIP. In addition to possible regression, Pittsburgh's starting depth has been tested already. As Singer reports, the Pirates could be looking at long absences for starters Wandy Rodriguez and James McDonald. Rodriguez, in particular, would be a major loss if he misses substantial time. He reportedly has been shut down after experiencing forearm tightness following a toss on flat ground.
- Another team that has experienced pitching injuries, the Dodgers, has made an internal move to try and shore up its late-inning woes. The team announced on Twitter that it has brought up right-handed reliever Jose Dominguez. As Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times explains, the 22-year-old has a legitimate 100+ MPH heater. After two drug suspensions earlier in his career, the Dominican native will look to make a bullpen acquisition unnecessary for the Dodgers.
- Sticking with the relief side of the rubber, the Cubs' Kevin Gregg has emerged as an unlikely trade candidate. As MLB.com's Carrie Muskat writes, Chicago already seems to be sizing up replacements for their newly minted closer. Of course, Gregg blew his first save this evening, which could take some of the luster off of his outstanding start. (Gregg's potential replacement, Blake Parker, went on to pick up his first big league save.) But as MLBTR's Steve Adams recently explained, Gregg's results have largely been supported by his peripherals.
- Another obvious trade candidate, the Marlins' Ricky Nolasco, also struggled in his latest showcase. Nevertheless, as Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald writes, Miami has already lined up Nolasco's rotation spot to be occupied by Henderson Alvarez as soon as Wednesday. Manager Mike Redmond says that Alvarez is "going to be on his way" to Miami and that the team will "figure out what we're going to do as far as where we're going to fit him in."
- The Marlins may be forced to return top Rule 5 pick Alfredo Silverio to the Dodgers after the 26-year-old outfielder had to undergo a second Tommy John surgery, writes Spencer. The former prospect had his career derailed by a car accident, but was hoping to re-establish himself in Miami.
The Rockies are on the lookout for pitching help, and Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post writes that the team is "aggressively scouting" right-handers Yovani Gallardo and Matt Garza. The Rox are also "taking a look" at Kevin Gregg, writes Saunders.
Vice president of baseball operations Bill Geivett declined to discuss the team's specific approach, nor would he discuss specific trade targets, but he did tell Saunders: "I won't comment on anybody specifically. But we are going to watch them all." Colorado is also interested to see how Drew Pomeranz will fare following his most recent promotion. Pomeranz is scheduled to start for the Rockies on Sunday.
The Rockies are not one of the 10 teams on Gallardo's no-trade list, so Geivett won't have to work to circumvent that obstacle if he pushes for a deal with the Brewers. The Diamondbacks have been linked to Gallardo in the past day, and the Braves have been linked to Gregg as well. Saunders echoes an earlier report that the Rockies won't pursue Ricky Nolasco if the Marlins insist that teams pick up the remainder of his salary, which appears to be the case.
The Braves are "among the many teams expected to show interest in Cubs closer Kevin Gregg," writes MLB.com's Mark Bowman. Bowman notes that the righty closed for current Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez when both were with the Marlins in 2007-08. Gregg is just one of many relievers the Braves may be looking at as they pursue veteran help with Eric O'Flaherty and Jonny Venters out for the season.
Gregg, 35, has become an unlikely asset for the Cubs, returning to their closer role and posting a 1.42 ERA, 9.2 K/9, 2.5 BB/9, 0.71 HR/9, and 36.5% groundball rate in 25 1/3 innings. He's proof of the volatility of relievers. In March, ESPN Los Angeles' Mark Saxon wrote that Gregg "quietly stewed" over the fact that he couldn't find a Major League deal in the offseason coming off a 2012 campaign in which he posted a 4.95 ERA and 1.5 K/BB ratio in 43 2/3 frames for the Orioles. He signed a minor league deal with the Dodgers, who couldn't find a spot on their big league pitching staff due to their starter surplus and released him. He then signed a minor league deal with the Cubs, who selected his contract in a mid-April bullpen shakeup.
It's a little early for a clear picture of Gregg's market, but the Braves, Reds, Red Sox, Tigers, and Padres are likely to be on the hunt for bullpen help. The Cubs and Braves hooked up on a notable trade near the deadline last year, with Chicago shipping veterans Paul Maholm and Reed Johnson to Atlanta for prospects Arodys Vizcaino and Jaye Chapman.
Gregg served as the Cubs' closer in 2009 before signing with the Blue Jays in 2010 and inking a two-year deal with the Orioles that covered the 2011-12 seasons. He returned to the Cubs on a minor league deal this April and now finds himself in the midst of an unlikely career year at age 35.
Gregg has pitched to an immaculate 1.11 ERA with 9.6 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 with 11 saves in 24 1/3 innings since returning to the Cubs. That ERA is likely unsustainable, but even advanced metrics like FIP (2.31), xFIP (3.05) and SIERA (2.79) feel that Gregg's work this year has truly been in the upper echelon of Major League relievers.
Gregg could serve as a bargain bullpen upgrade for teams that don't wish to meet the steep asking price on players like Jesse Crain and Jonathan Papelbon (if he does indeed become available). Gregg ranks fourth in FIP, xFIP and WAR among relief trade candidates according to the custom Fangraphs leaderboard compiled yesterday by MLBTR's Tim Dierkes.
We're just under six weeks away from the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. At this point, many teams are still attempting to determine whether or not they're buyers or sellers, and the addition of a second Wild Card in each league has made that a longer process than it was in the past. However, ESPN's Buster Olney has spoken to rival evaluators who have said that the Cubs are "open for business" and ready to sell (ESPN Insider required and recommended).
The Cubs are 13 games below .500 and 17 games out of first place in the National League Central as of this morning, so their stance is a clear one. Nate Schierholtz, Kevin Gregg, Scott Feldman, David DeJesus (when healthy), Alfonso Soriano, James Russell and Matt Garza are the names that figure to be on the trading block as the Cubs field calls, writes Olney. His piece also includes much more info on potential matches for the Cubs and which divisions may be the first to become active on the trade front.
My take on the Cubs' situation: Being the first team to sell pieces has its advantages and disadvantages. Obviously, the Cubs will have more teams to work with at this juncture. Early in the trading season, with so few teams ready to declare themselves sellers, buyers will have few other places to turn. Trading for a player like Garza or Feldman right now would give the acquiring team an extra few starts from the pitcher they're trading precious prospects for. Acquiring a position player in late June as opposed to late July could mean an extra 20 to 30 games out of that player.
On the flipside of the coin, teams may not be as desperate right now as they would be in the final hours leading up to the deadline. Oftentimes, big deals go down with just hours or minutes to go before the trade deadline, as teams have decided that one final push is worth the risk. Recent examples of July 31 blockbusters include both Hunter Pence trades, the Ubaldo Jimenez trade and the White Sox's acquisition of Jake Peavy. Each of these deals included high-profile prospects being exchanged for star-caliber players, though obviously not all of them worked out.
Injuries can also occur in the next month that would make buyers out of teams who are currently not looking. Conversely, one of the Cubs' trade chips could incur an injury, which would leave president Theo Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer one less piece to work with.
Selling pieces early takes away some of the "desperation" leverage from the Cubs, but it also will likely increase their number of suitors, creating more competition for their players. Epstein and Hoyer will have to determine how to walk that line over the next several weeks as they look to build toward the future.
Tomorrow is the 30th anniversary of the infamous Lee Elia tirade against the Wrigley Field faithful where he unleased 37 "bleeps" in 187 seconds. Elia would remain as manager of the Cubs for just four more months. John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle chronicles how times have changed for Major League managers. Four reporters were present for Elia's rant and only one had a microphone which captured the event for all posterity. Shea reminds us today there are interview rooms, social media, and live post-game press conferences shown on regional and national sports networks. As a result, Shea says managers have to be more articulate, polite, and thoughtful. Giants manager Bruce Bochy echoes that sentiment, "It's different when you just see pen and paper. When there's a camera there, you have to remind yourself." Elsewhere from the NL Central Division:
- Cubs manager Dale Sveum refuses to name a closer telling reporters, including the Chicago Tribune's Paul Sullivan, "I'm not going to really mess with anything right now in our bullpen. It's about as good as it can be right now." The Cubs are 7-for-13 in save opportunites with three different relievers notching a save including Kevin Gregg, who leads the team with three despite being recalled only two weeks ago.
- Matt Garza, number seven on MLBTR's 2014 Free Agent Rankings, was scheduled to throw a bullpen session today and is on track to make three or four minor league rehab starts, reports David Furones of MLB.com.
- Speaking of Garza, Bruce Miles of the Daily Herald revisited the trade which brought the right-hander to Chicago and notes just one of the eight players invovled in the deal is currently playing in the Majors. Miles sees the trade as a wash, a viewpoint shared by MLBTR's Steve Adams who examined the Garza trade in a Transaction Retrospection last month.
- The Cardinals' imploding bullpen saw its ERA rise to 5.93 after surrendering six runs to the Pirates today. MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch tweets the status quo cannot continue, but the team does not have many in-house options. Langosch also tweeted injured closer Jason Motte played catch for the second consecutive day indicating his arm responded well to yesterday's session.
- For the second straight season, Rickie Weeks is off to a slow start offensively with only seven hits in his last 69 at-bats. Adam McCalvy of MLB.com speculates Weeks will have a long leash because no one in the front office wants to start the service clock of Scooter Gennett, the Brewers' sixth-best prospect according to MLB.com, just yet.
The Cubs announced that they have signed reliever Kevin Gregg to a minor league deal. Gregg will report to the club's spring training facility in Mesa, Arizona before being assigned somewhere within the organization.
Gregg, 34, was released by the Dodgers earlier this month as the club already had their surplus starters taking up spots in the bullpen. The right-hander appeared in 40 games for the O's before being released last September, with a 4.74 ERA, 7.6 K/9, 4.9 BB/9, and a 47.8 % ground ball rate in 43 2/3 innings.