Kris Bryant Rumors

Cubs Notes: Garza, Free Agents, Bryant, Tseng

Of the six trades made during the first week of July, the Cubs were involved in four of them.  The most recent trade occurred last night, as the Cubs shipped right-handed bench bat Scott Hairston to the Nationals for pitching prospect Ivan Pineyro.  The Cubs are expected to continue stockpiling young players this month in more trades.  The latest on the team:

  • The Dodgers and Indians both believe Matt Garza will be traded and have been "heavily scouting" the right-hander, USA Today's Bob Nightengale reports.  The Giants and Rangers are also scouting Garza's start tonight (Twitter links).  The Dodgers' continued involvement is interesting given their recent acquisition of Ricky Nolasco, though it's probably no surprise that the Dodgers are again targeting as many notable players as possible.
  • The Cubs have been quick to trade players after signing them as free agents in the Theo Epstein/Jed Hoyer era, but Hoyer said today on a conference call he doesn't think free agents will shy away from the team for that reason.  "I would hope that we cease being sellers on an annual basis," Hoyer explained, also noting that each situation is taken on an individual basis and, for example, "A lot of places weren’t willing to guarantee [Scott Feldman] a rotation spot coming off a so-so year in Texas."  MLB.com's Carrie Muskat has the full quotes on her blog.
  • Garza perhaps the best available starting pitcher, has "opened a lot of eyes the way he's thrown the last four, fives times out," said Hoyer.  Garza, a 29-year-old in his contract year, has allowed only three runs over his last 30 innings and takes on the White Sox tonight at U.S. Cellular Field.
  • Both the Cubs and Nationals will receive a player to be named later in the Hairston trade, but Hoyer told reporters that component "will not affect the balance of the deal."
  • Third baseman Kris Bryant is one of five first-rounders who remains unsigned; the Cubs drafted him second overall.  Hoyer was reluctant to provide an update on negotiations with adviser Scott Boras, but said, "We’re confident we’ll get it done. We’ll make it an exceptionally fair offer. If Kris wants to be a Cub and be a professional baseball player, I’m confident we’ll get a deal done. Sometimes it takes a deadline to make a deal, and we have a deadline coming up shortly. In a lot of ways, I think it’s a plus at this point."  Draft guru Jim Callis of Baseball America expects all five first-rounders to sign by Friday's deadline.
  • 18-year-old Taiwanese righty JenHo Tseng, ranked #29 on Jesse Sanchez's top 30 international prospect list for MLB.com, is "known for his upright, quick delivery and a fastball that has reached 95 mph."  The Cubs have emerged as the favorite for Tseng, tweets Sanchez, and he's expected to command at least $1.5MM.  Assuming Eloy Jimenez's $2.8MM deal with the Cubs is finalized, and the Cubs add Tseng at around $1.5MM, they appear a lock to exceed their bonus pool by more than 10% even if they max it out by acquiring more pool space.  As explained by Ben Badler of Baseball America, the penalty for going 10-15% over the pool is a 100% tax on the overage and, more importantly, a $500K per player cap in the 2014-15 spending period.  15% or more means a $250K cap. 

Draft And International Notes: Jays, Cubs, Red Sox

Here is the latest news on draft and international signings as we look ahead to the July 12 deadline for Rule 4 draftees to sign. You can keep track of signings from the draft's first round right here. Only five players — Kris Bryant (Cubs), Colin Moran (Marlins), Phil Bickford (Blue Jays), Hunter Renfroe (Padres), and Aaron Judge (Yankees) — remain unsigned. As Jim Callis of Baseball America recently explained (subscription required), the changes to the draft system have sapped the signing period of its former deadline drama. Last year, for instance, only six first-rounders waited to sign until the last day, just three of those lasted until the last hour before the deadline, and only one (Mark Appel) did not end up signing.

  • Among the unsigned first-rounders, Callis tweets that he expects all to sign. While he thinks Bickford will ultimately ink with the Blue Jays, Callis does say (via Twitter) that he is the most likely of the five to pass up a deal.
  • The Jays are also angling to convince a late-round choice, such as Jake BrentzSam Tewes, or Rowdy Tellez, to forego college and join the organization, explains Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca. Toronto has cleared about $1.3MM of bonus pool availability after locking up second-rounder Clinton Hollon for $701k under slot. Davidi says that the club is expected to sign first-rounder Bickford for close to slot value, leaving the team free to spend the rest of its cash on one of its hard-to-sign picks.
  • While Bryant remains the highest choice yet to sign, the Cubs remain confident that they will lock him up, GM Jed Hoyer told David Kaplan in a WGN Radio interview (Twitter link). Likewise, Callis opined (via Twitter) that Bryant will sign, though it may take until the deadline. 
  • Even as the Cubs finish up their draft signings, the team remains heavily involved in the international amateur market. Top overall international prospect Eloy Jimenez has yet to formally sign with Chicago despite reportedly agreeing to terms, which MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez says signals that the Cubs are paying close attention to the penalties for going over the allotted international bonuses. (Twitter link.) Concurring with MLBTR's Steve Adams' breakdown of the Cubs' international expenditures, Sanchez also provided some added background on the situation in a separate piece
  • We also just learned that the Jays' AL East-rival Red Sox have cleared a similar amount of cash. Callis tweets that Boston will "definitely" spend up to its slot totals and may also go into the tax penalty space up to the point of sacrificing a draft choice. 
  • The Angels are still working to sign 12th-round, high-school righty Blake Goins, tweets Callis. The club can go up to $472k before hitting any penalties, and could pay Goins as much as $621k before it would have to sacrifice a draft pick to sign him.
  • Likewise, with their available funds, Callis tweets that the Reds appear to be targeting 14th-round choice Willie Abreu. The University of Miami commit reportedly has a power bat and arm.

Draft News: Lanphere, Farinaro, Bryant

Last night, the Pirates agreed to terms with first-rounder Austin Meadows. Here are today's draft-related news items and notable non-first-round signings…

  • The Rangers have signed 21st-rounder Luke Lanphere for a $400K signing bonus, according to Baseball America's Jim Callis (Twitter link). That's $300K over-slot for Lanphere, a projectable high school right-hander out of California. The UC Riverside recruit's fastball touches 91 mph presently, according to Callis.
  • Baseball America reports that Cardinals 11th-round pick Steven Farinaro signed for $750K, which is the largest bonus ever for a player drafted after the 10th round under the new CBA's rules. Because the assigned pick value for each pick after the 10th round is $100K, signing Farinaro meant a $650K hit to the Cards' bonus pool. The Cardinals have now exceeded their bonus pool by $325K, resulting in a $243K penalty tax and leaving them just $20,896 shy of the point at which they would forfeit their 2014 first-round pick. Farinaro, a high school right-hander, ranked 423rd on BA's Top 500.
  • While recent reports suggest that the Cubs and No. 2 overall pick Kris Bryant are "nowhere close" to a deal, Jim Callis of Baseball America tweets that he expects a deal to be completed. He does note that Bryant could be the last first-rounder to sign, however.


Cubs, Kris Bryant “Nowhere Close” To Deal

While the majority of first-round picks from this year's draft have agreed to terms or signed, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that the Cubs and No. 2 overall selection Kris Bryant are "nowhere close to a deal."

Bryant and adviser Scott Boras are seeking a bonus greater than the $6.7MM assigned pick value, while the Cubs are hoping to sign him for just over $6MM, according to Heyman. The Cubs could spend as much as $7MM on Bryant without forfeiting draft picks for 2014, but they can also point to the fact that No. 1 pick Mark Appel signed for $6.35MM and No. 3 pick Jonathan Gray signed for $4.8MM.

Bryant, who hit 31 homers this season for the University of San Diego, could follow the path that Appel took in 2012 and return to college for his senior season to re-enter the draft in 2014. The Cubs wouldn't be able to reallocate the money they'd planned to spend on Bryant, though they would receive a compensatory pick in next year's draft. Heyman reports that talks could go all the way to the July 15 deadline.


Draft Notes: Royals, Cubs, Bryant, Astros, Blue Jays

In his final installment of his Top 100 Draft Flashback series, Matt Eddy of Baseball America assigned values to each of the top ten picks and gave tiered values to the entire first round.  Eddy lumps the together the picks in groups of five and uses WAR to weigh each tier against one another.  He also identifies the best players to be plucked out of each group, starting with Alex Rodriguez (1-5), Frank Thomas/Derek Jeter (6-10), and Manny Ramirez (11-15).  Here's the latest draft news as we close in on the first pick at 6pm central..

  • Keith Law of ESPN.com (via Twitter) hears that the Astros will take Mark Appel No. 1.
  • Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports (via Twitter) isn't sure if the Royals have a deal worked out with Phil Bickford but he's certain that some team does.  The right-hander's adviser kept him from talking to club executives this week.
  • It was reported earlier today that the Royals have reached a deal to take Bickford with the No. 8 pick, but the club is adamant that they have no such agreement, tweets Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star
  • There's some buzz around baseball that the Cubs are leaning towards taking Kris Bryant over a pitcher, tweets David Kaplan of CSNChicago.com.
  • Jim Bowden of ESPN.com (Twitter link) spoke to one scouting director picking early in first round about how he thinks the top of the draft will play out.  His guess is that the Astros will take Jonathan Gray, the Cubs will grab Mark Appel at No. 2, and the Rockies will draft Bryant with the third pick.  
  • Shi Davidi of Sportsnet broke down the Blue Jays' draft strategy and spoke with Matt Smoral about his draft experience last year.  The left-hander, who saw his stock drop thanks to a stress fracture in his right foot, assumed he was UNC-bound as he didn't expect any club to meet his $2MM asking price.  “Initially, I went, not into panic, but said, ‘Oh crap, I’m going to college,’” the No. 50 pick in last year's draft said. “[The new rules] definitely changed the game but the way I looked at was, I went in there with a number that me and my family and my agent got together, and I was good with going either way."  Toronto found room in the budget for Smoral by essentially punting their picks from rounds 4-10, and Davidi surmises that they'll be open to getting creative this year if another opportunity falls into their lap.
  • Marc Carig of Newsday (via Twitter) hears that the Mets will draft the best player available at No. 11, rather than target need.

Draft Notes: Appel, Astros, Bryant, Ramirez Jr.

We're one day away from the 2013 amateur draft. MLBTR will be providing live updates as the first and supplemental rounds progress, and we'll also host a draft chat for those who wish to participate. Here's the latest with just over 24 hours until things kick off…

  • Mark Appel gambled on himself by refusing to sign with the Pirates, and it looks like it's about to pay off, writes Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Heyman adds that there's been extra suggestion of late that the Astros could select Appel first overall this time around. Appel will surely seek "at least" the $7.79MM slot value with the first overall pick, writes Heyman.
  • Meanwhile Jose de Jesus Ortiz of the Houston Chronicle writes that Appel's signability is still an issue for the Astros. General manager Jeff Luhnow told Ortiz that the Astros will set their own number (in terms of what they'd like to pay), and in some cases they'll be willing to go over or under that number. Luhnow adds: "That's what we did last year, and it worked out great because we were able to maximize what we got for our total pool of resources. We'll use that same strategy this year."
  • In an Insider-only piece, former Nationals GM and ESPN columnist Jim Bowden opines that the Astros should select San Diego third baseman Kris Bryant first overall. He writes that most of the best No. 1 overall picks ever — including Alex Rodriguez, Chipper Jones, Ken Griffey Jr., Darryl Strawberry and Joe Mauer — are position players. He feels that Bryant, whom he calls the closest to Major League ready of any player in the draft, minimizes Houston's risk.
  • Stan Grossfield of the Boston Globe writes that Manny Ramirez's son, Manny Ramirez Jr., is expected to be drafted out of high school in the middle rounds of the draft. Ramirez Jr. has tremendous work ethic, according to his high school baseball instructors. A Red Sox executive told Grossfield that while Ramirez Jr. has power, Boston isn't likely to draft him. Likewise, Orioles GM Dan Duquette told Grossfield he doesn't know much about Ramirez Jr. The younger Ramirez says he learned quite a bit from interacting with his father's teammates and coaches, including David Ortiz, Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier and Don Mattingly.

Draft Notes: Cubs, Brewers

The 2013 amateur draft begins Thursday evening with the first 73 picks, continues Friday with rounds 3-10, and concludes Saturday with rounds 11-40. The Astros have the first selection in the draft and nearly half of MLBTR readers believe Oklahoma's Jonathan Gray will be the one to hear his name called. Earlier today, we learned Gray, Stanford's Mark Appel, San Diego's Kris Bryant, and North Carolina's Colin Moran are the Astros' top possibilities, with high school outfielder Clint Frazier a distant fifth. Let's take a look at today's other draft notes:

  • The Cubs have spent most of their recent draft prep discussing their second and third round selections (41st and 75th overall) rather than who to take with the second overall choice, reports MLB.com's Carrie Muskat. "We’ve probably discussed No. 2 for about two hours of the four days we’ve been here," said Jason McLeod, the Cubs' senior vice president for scouting and player development. "We’ll get into those guys more this week."
  • Those guys are Gray, Appel, Bryant, and Moran, according to Muskat in that same piece.
  • McLeod doesn't want the Cubs to pigeonhole themselves into using the second overall pick on need (starting pitching); but, instead are looking for a player "to provide significant impact and hopefully get us to where we want to go on a consistent basis," writes Bruce Miles of the Daily Herald
  • The Brewers are confident they will land a big league talent even though their first pick won't come until the second round at number 54, reports Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "I enjoy the challenge," Brewers amateur scouting director Bruce Seid told Haudricout. "You might miss the chance for a so-called impact player in the first round but there will be some (future) big-leaguers in there. We've just got to find them." The Brewers forfeited their first round draft choice (17th overall) when they signed free agent Kyle Lohse.
  • Within that same column, Haudricourt blames the Brewers' current woes, as well as a farm system thin on projected impact players, on their failure in the 2008 and 2009 drafts. The Brewers had 11 selections in the first two rounds of those drafts and none of those players have spent a day with the club at the MLB level and the top six picks in the 2008 draft are no longer with the organization.
  • Many teams have held pre-Draft workouts to get a better look at the prospects. MLB.com's Adam McCalvy provided an inside look at those workouts from the viewpoint of a former participant, Milwaukee outfielder Logan Schafer, who attended a Brewers' workout in 2008 and was later drafted by the team in the third round that year.  

Cubs Notes: Garza, Sveum, Draft, Guillen

Matt Garza made his second start since being activated from the disabled list, but it didn't go as well as his five shutout innings in his season debut last Tuesday versus the Pirates. Garza, number eight on MLBTR's 2014 Free Agent Power Rankings, needed 92 pitches (52 for strikes) to cover four innings against the Reds. The right-hander struck out seven but allowed four runs on four hits with four walks (one intentional), one HBP, and a wild pitch. Garza received a no-decision as the Cubs rallied for a 5-4 victory in 10 innings snapping their six-game losing streak. In other North Side news:

  • The present for the Cubs has fallen into the abyss and the future is flush with questions, opines Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune. Sullivan points to no hints ownership will increase payroll and a farm system which remains bereft of pitching talent at the upper levels and that would-be stars such as outfielder Brett Jackson and third baseman Josh Vitters have yet to pan out.
  • Within the same piece, Sullivan writes there's no chance manager Dale Sveum will be fired, as team President Theo Epstein believes the coaching staff has done a "fine" job.
  • The Cubs will have the second overall selection in the June 6 amateur draft, but Epstein warns not to pin the hopes of the franchise on that player. "There are some promising players on the way, but we have a lot of work to do," Epstein told Sullivan. "The No. 2 pick is a great opportunity, but one player by himself cannot make a system.
  • The Cubs are eyeing pitchers Jonathan Gray of Oklahoma and Mark Appel of Stanford and third basemen Kris Bryant of San Diego and Colin Moran of North Carolina with that pick, reports MLB.com's Carrie Muskat. Manager Dale Sveum has been watching video of the quartet and provides Muskat with a brief scouting report on each.
  • With the Crosstown Classic against the White Sox beginning tomorrow, former South Side manager Ozzie Guillen said recently he would be willing to be a coach for the Cubs. Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times tweeted Sveum's response, "I don't have no openings on my staff."

Draft Notes: Astros, Appel, Gray, Cubs, Harvey

MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo was asked on Twitter where high school outfielder Clint Frazier, whom many expect to go in the Top 10 of the MLB Draft, ranks in comparison to high school talents from previous drafts. Mayo notes that it's hard to ignore hindsight and view players in the same light as he did when they were amateurs, but he ranked Frazier as the eighth-best talent among 36 high school hitters selected in the first round dating back to 2009. Here's more on the draft…

  • The Astros have six players on their draft board but Frazier looks to be edging out Austin Meadows, leaving them with Frazier, Mark Appel, Jonathan Gray, Kris Bryant and Colin Moran, according to Brian T. Smith of the Houston Chronicle. Bryant and Frazier are seen as dark horses if the team decides Appel and Gray aren't worth the money they're asking. Should Scott Boras and Appel highball the Astros, money will become an issue. Smith notes that it's very close between Appel and Gray, adding that Gray has ties to the Astros and is open to negotiating (All links to Smith's Twitter account).
  • Cubs president Theo Epstein, GM Jed Hoyer, top scouting/player development executive Jason McLeod and amateur scouting director Jaron Madison are currently in Oklahoma City to meet with Gray, writes Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times. The Cubs are still expected to take either Gray or Appel at No. 2 overall.
  • Bill Kiser of MLB.com profiles prep right-hander Hunter Harvey, whose stock has risen enough that he's considered a likely first-rounder. Harvey is the son of former MLB closer Bryan Harvey, who saved an AL-best 46 saves in 1991 and made two All-Star teams. The younger Harvey has a 0.38 ERA and 116 strikeouts in 54 2/3 high school innings this season. Harvey, whose fastball sits in the mid-90s and has touched 97, also features a solid curveball. Mayo had him going 25th to the Giants in his mock draft, while John Sickels of Minorleagueball.com has him going 30th to the Rangers and ESPN's Keith Law (Insider req'd) has him at No. 24 to the Athletics.

Draft Notes: Marlins, Rockies, Bryant, Padres

The new draft slotting system essentially allows teams to "trade down" with themselves, writes Dave Cameron of Fangraphs. Cameron uses the Astros' selection of Carlos Correa last year as an example, stating that by saving money on the No. 1 overall pick and re-investing their draft pool later on Lance McCullers Jr. and Rio Ruiz, the team employed the same philosophy that NFL and NBA teams do when they trade down: increase the quantity of good talent rather than focus on one elite player. Cameron adds that such a tactic is highly risky, as the No. 1 overall slot has produced significantly more value (in terms of WAR) than even the No. 2 and No. 3 spots in the draft, historically speaking. He does concede that in years without a consensus No. 1 talent, the strategy can make a lot of sense. Here are Wednesday's draft-related tidbits…

  • The Marlins are likely to focus on college players early on, specifically position players, writes Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald. Spencer writes that the Fish will likely select San Diego third baseman/outfielder Kris Bryant or UNC third baseman Colin Moran if either is available at No. 6. If both are gone, they could shift to Nevada right-hander Braden Shipley and target a bat later on.
  • The Rockies are also eyeing Kris Bryant at the No. 3 spot, tweets Troy Renck of the Denver Post. Bryant, regarded as the most powerful bat in the draft, has been popping up in rumors more and more as the draft nears. Some feel he has No. 1 overall potential.
  • After focusing heavily on high school pitching in last year's draft, the Padres are likely to focus on bats, assistant GM of player personnel Chad MacDonald tells Chris Jenkins of the San Diego Union-Tribune. Particularly, the Friars will be looking for middle infield help.
  • MacDonald has scouted prep right-hander Kohl Stewart, and the Padres are enamored with his "electric" talent, but he's very unlikely to be on the board by the No. 13 selection. "He's the best high school arm in the country," said MacDonald.