Kevin Towers Rumors
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:
- If the Diamondbacks don't move one of their outfielders, look for Adam Eaton to open the season at Triple-A, according to MLB.com's Steve Gilbert. "That's not in a perfect world what we want to have happen," GM Kevin Towers told Gilbert. "But we're not going to move an outfielder in a lousy deal just to move an outfielder."
- Within the same piece, Towers says discussions have been held with the Diamondbacks' six arbitration eligible players and he expects those negotiations to go down to the wire. You can follow the Diamondbacks' arbitration cases and those of MLB's other 29 teams with MLBTR's Arbitration Tracker.
- Acknowledging it sounds crazy and doesn't really think it's going to happen, Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post urges the Nationals to sign free agent closer Rafael Soriano. Kilgore sees agent Scott Boras convincing owner Ted Lerner the franchise has a finite window of competing for titles and Soriano is the final, missing piece.
- Earlier today, ESPN.com's Buster Olney suggested the Giants should look into signing Buster Posey to a Joey Votto-type extension. Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle, however, would be surprised by such a deal because the Giants have been burned by long-term contracts given to Barry Zito and Aaron Rowand. Schulman tweeted a good starting point in Posey talks would be the $53.5MM given to Tim Lincecum during his four-years of arbitration eligibility.
- The Marlins are sifting through the batch of unsigned free agent relievers and are able to sign an inexpensive arm or two with the salary relief leftover from trading Yunel Escobar, according to the Miami Herald's Clark Spencer.
- Rick VandenHurk, released yesterday by the Pirates, will sign with the Samsung Lions of the Korean Baseball Organization, according to Naver, a Korean news service, confirming a report first tweeted by Dan Kurtz of MyKBO.net.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
Some links to check out as the Rockies try to win their ninth straight...
- Astros Senior Director of Social Media Alyson Footer tweets that Brandon Backe is working out and hopes to throw for scouts this winter with the idea of getting an invite to Spring Training with a team next year. Backe hasn't appeared in a big league game since last June.
- Billy Beane told MLB.com's Jane Lee that the decisions on the 2011 options for Mark Ellis and Coco Crisp likely won't be made until after the season (Twitter link).
- Tom Haudricourt of The Journal Sentinel reports that the Brewers and Ken Macha have yet to discuss the manager's club option for next season.
- Matt Holliday volunteered to move to right field after the Cardinals traded Ryan Ludwick according to FoxSportsMidwest.com's B.J. Rains. The idea was to the give the team the flexibility to pursue a player limited to left field if the opportunity presented itself.
- Andy Martino of the New York Daily News doesn't agree with the report earlier today that John Ricco is out of contention to take over as the Mets' general manager if Omar Minaya is removed from the role.
- The Boston Globe's Peter Abraham says that Theo Epstein and Brian Cashman might be celebrating the "best deal they never made" -- trading for Johan Santana -- following the announcement that he requires shoulder surgery.
- Edwin Rodriguez loves managing the Marlins and hopes they factor him into their search for a permanent candidate this offseason, writes Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post.
- ESPN's Buster Olney says the Diamondbacks aren't going to spend a ton of money on their next general manager, but they will pay Kevin Towers what is needed if they decide he's their guy (Twitter links). Olney says the team is likely to decide on their next GM within the next couple of weeks.
- The Phillies have traded "over 20 players" from their farm system over their last four years according to assistant GM Chuck Lamar, but Bob Brookover of The Philadelphia Inquirer says the team's minor league system is still in good shape. Keep in mind that they've traded for Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay, and Roy Oswalt within the last 14 months.
- Paul Sullivan of The Chicago Tribune lists nine traits the Cubs' next manager should have.
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...
- A Cubbies Consilience throws some kudos Jim Hendry's way for his offseason.
- Camden Crazies calls the O's trade for Julio Lugo an okay one.
- The Kept Faith finds some players Kevin Towers passed on while he was the Padres' GM.
- 1 Blue Jays Way remembers Roy Halladay's time in Toronto.
- Meanwhile, Around The BasePath looks at some expectations for Halladay's first year in Philadelphia.
- Drunk Jays Fans wonders why Lyle Overbay was named the team's every day first baseman when he can't hit lefties.
- Lookout Landing compares Eric Byrnes and Ryan Langerhans with regards to the Mariners' spare outfielder's job.
- Bronx Bombers Beat examines the Yankees' plan for Phil Hughes.
- More Hardball lists the players who will begin the season on the disabled list.
- Capitol Avenue Club rounds out the Braves' roster.
- Crashburn Alley looks at the Phillies' winners and losers from Spring Training.
Leftover links for Tuesday evening....
- Perhaps we shouldn't count on the Mike Lowell rumor mill immediately roaring back to life. ESPNBoston's Gordon Edes says (via Twitter) that scouts don't feel Lowell is moving very well in spring action. Of course, as Edes points out in a second tweet, the 36-year-old doesn't move overly well even when he's healthy.
- Greg Cote of the Miami Herald thinks Lowell's limited mobility isn't as big a concern as long as he's playing first base, and would like to see the Marlins go after him.
- The Quintana Roo Tigers of the Mexican League released Tomo Ohka, tweets NPB Tracker. The Tigers had just signed the Japanese right-hander last week.
- Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer assesses the progress of the players the Indians acquired in last season's Cliff Lee trade, focusing on Jason Donald.
- The Yankees have finally made their hiring of Kevin Towers official, naming him a Special Assignment Scout, per a team press release. It was first reported back in January that Towers would be joining New York's staff.
- Yesterday, we heard that the Mariners still have interest in Jarrod Washburn, but John Hickey of AOL Fanhouse tweets that the left-hander isn't close to signing yet with Seattle or anyone else.
- The Astros, not the Red Sox, signed minor-leaguer and former Mariners' first round pick, Michael Garciaparra, writes Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe.
- If he were a GM tasked with signing either himself and Vladimir Guerrero, Marlon Byrd would make the same choice the Rangers did, according to ESPNDallas' Richard Durrett. Byrd says that before he signed with the Cubs, he had some preliminary discussions with Texas, adding that the Rangers' decision to sign Vladdy was a "no brainer."