Kyle Gibson Rumors
While there haven't been any extension talks (and won't be) between the Royals and James Shields, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports writes that it's not completely out of the question for Shields to re-sign their ace this coming offseason. However, in order to do so, the team will need to make the postseason, he adds. Royals executives have said that they might take a loss this year due to the team's record payroll, but they also believe that a postseason run could push them into the black, according to Heyman. That type of turnaround could keep them in the bidding to retain Shields, who will hit free agency entering his age-33 season.
Here's more on baseball's Central divisions...
- Close to 25 scouts were on-hand to watch Jeff Samardzija's start against the Mariners yesterday, writes Bruce Levine of 670thescore.com. According to Levine, the Blue Jays had three scouts present to watch the Cubs' Opening Day starter, including director of pro scouting and former Cubs GM Ed Lynch.
- Pirates GM Neal Huntington tells Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that he is not interested in making a trade for a backup catcher despite the injury to Chris Stewart (Twitter link). That suggests that Tony Sanchez will open the season as Pittsburgh's secondary backstop.
- Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette looks at the Pirates' bullpen surplus, wondering if a trade of Vin Mazzaro or Bryan Morris (neither has minor league options remaining) is on the horizon. Brink writes that right-handers Stolmy Pimentel and Jeanmar Gomez (both also out of options) will open the season in the bullpen, leaving Morris and Mazzaro as logical trade candidates.
- The Twins have named former first-rounder and top prospect Kyle Gibson their fifth starter, reports La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. That means that out-of-options starters Scott Diamond, Sam Deduno and Vance Worley are out of luck. Deduno will start the season in the bullpen, while Worley has already been placed on outright waivers (the expiration of those waivers has come and gone, but there's yet to be a report on his status). It's unclear at this time what Diamond's fate will be.
- Cardinals shortstop Pete Kozma is trying not to focus on trade rumors surrounding his name, he tells Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Strauss speculates that with the decision to option Tyler Lyons to Triple-A Memphis, GM John Mozeliak could look to acquire a long reliever via trade.
- Other news from the game's Central divisions today included the Tigers' acquisition of Andrew Romine from the Angels as well as the news that flamethrowing setup man Bruce Rondon will be the latest victim of Tommy John surgery. Also, Indians minor league signee David Aardsma was granted his release.
The Twins have announced, via Twitter, they will promote top pitching prospect Kyle Gibson on Tuesday and he will make his MLB debut Saturday. The Twins have optioned left-hander Pedro Hernandez to clear a 25-man roster spot for Gibson.
Gibson, the 22nd overall selection in the 2009 draft, was ranked as the 41st-best prospect in the game by ESPN's Keith Law (Insider subscription required), 45th by MLB.com, and 68th by Baseball America. Gibson underwent Tommy John surgery in 2011 and didn't pitch again until the fall of 2012; but, Law writes "he is back to 92-94 with his four-seamer, and he works down in the zone to keep the ball on the ground as much as possible. His best pitch is a hard slider that he uses to wipe out right-handed hitters but also used in changeup counts against lefties." Baseball America lauds Gibson's changeup as a plus pitch with sink while MLB.com says Gibson's slider "gives him a third above-average offering." The 25-year-old has been solid in Triple-A this year posting a 3.01 ERA, 7.7 K/9, 2.7 BB/9, and 55% groundball rate in 92 2/3 innings covering 15 starts.
Gibson will accrue 97 days of service time, if he remains with the Twins for the rest of the season, and will most likely not be eligible for Super Two status based on the current projection. The Twins will control Gibson through the 2019 season.
Kyle Lohse has appeared in 192 games since he last wore a Twins uniform in 2006, but the veteran righty is facing his old team for the very first time tonight when the Brewers visit Target Field. Should Lohse earn the victory tonight, he will become just the 13th pitcher in history to record a win against all 30 current teams. Here are some more news items out of the Twin Cities...
- Led by top prospects Byron Buxton, Miguel Sano and Alex Meyer, the Twins' farm system drew high praise from an NL general manager and a rival scout, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman reports. Buxton, in particular, drew raves and was compared to such stars as Matt Kemp and Mike Trout. "[Buxton] is a better athlete than A-Rod. He's a crazy athlete," the scout said. "These guys come once every 10 years, every 20 years. If you see this guy run, it's unreal. Five steps and he's on the bag."
- The Twins "hold the power" when it comes to Justin Morneau's future, 1500ESPN.com's Brandon Warne writes. This is Morneau's last year under contract and given his performance (a .735 OPS through 213 PA), the Twins could look to internal options or sign a cheap free agent rather than bring Morneau back.
- Right-hander Kyle Gibson was hit hard in a start for Triple-A Rochester today, putting an end to rumors that he would soon get called up to the Majors, 1500ESPN.com's Phil Mackey writes. Twins GM Terry Ryan hinted earlier this week that Gibson could be in line for a quick promotion with another strong appearance though this setback will likely keep him in Rochester for another week or two. Gibson has posted a 2.82 ERA, 3.12 K/BB ratio and a 7.9 K/9 rate at Triple-A this season and entered the year as a consensus top #50 prospect (ranked 41st by Keith Law, 45th by MLB.com, 49th by Baseball America) in the sport.
In a recent two-part series for 1500 ESPN, Phil Mackey profiled Twins top prospect Byron Buxton and noted that Buxton's path to the Majors could be on a more accelerated timetable than most people think. The No. 2 overall pick in the 2012 draft, Buxton has obliterated Class-A Cedar Rapids similarly to Mike Trout, who played there two years ago when Cedar Rapids was an Angels affiliate. Buxton is hitting .368/.485/.632 with five homers and 13 steals in 29 games for the Kernels. Mackey adds that the Twins, who typically move prospects slowly, have been aggressive in the past with the likes of Joe Mauer, David Ortiz and Matt Garza. Chris Parmelee and Aaron Hicks are two current Twins who skipped Triple-A. In addition to that group, Oswaldo Arcia received only 10 games at Triple-A this season before being called up at the age of 21. Here's more on the Twins from Mackey's colleague, Darren Wolfson...
- Wolfson talked with Twins VP of player personnel Mike Radcliff about the upcoming draft, and Radcliff conceded that they're down to about four players they're eyeing with the No. 4 overall pick. Radcliff added that the Twins are likely to draft at a position of need, but that they still need to take the best player available at that position. That seemingly clashes with yesterday's report that they may cut a deal with prep catcher Reese McGuire and spend more heavily later in the draft.
- It's no surprise that two of the four players on the Twins list are Mark Appel and Jonathan Gray, although as the favorites to go No. 1 and No. 2 overall, neither college right-hander may be there.
- The Twins have had eight scouts evaluate Austin Meadows and Clint Frazier, and there's a 50/50 split amongst those scouts on which is the better prospect.
- Radcliff says the Twins aren't worried about dealing with Scott Boras if they select one of his advisees: "...he tells us what the deal is. We'll know (what it'll take to sign the player)."
- Radcliff praised San Diego third baseman/outfielder Kris Bryant's versatility and power and also noted that Indiana State left-hander Sean Manaea's injury battles this Spring "has to be a factor." Both have been considered Top 5 talents, though Manaea's stock has fallen, as Radcliff noted.
- When Wolfson mentioned comparisons between Buxton and B.J. Upton, Radcliff replied that he feels Buxton will be "a way better hitter" than Upton and added: "Upton is a nice player, a plus defender. ... But Buxton has a swing that will allow him to hit for average. It's the fastest, quickest, most direct swing you'll see."
- Top prospect Kyle Gibson seems close to Major League ready following Tommy John surgery in late 2011, but Radcliff said Gibson is not quite ready to join the Major League rotation yet. Gibson, whose last start was an eight-strikeout shutout, is still a bit "uneven," according to Radcliff.
Here's the latest from around the league as Thanksgiving Weekend comes to a close...
- Zack Greinke's camp predicts the talented veteran will not only become the richest right-hander in history, but may also surpass Cole Hamels' $153MM contract, tweets Jim Bowden of ESPN.com.
- While Rick Porcello's future with the Tigers remains uncertain, there's no denying that the 24-year-old may be a top player to watch for a breakout season in 2013, says FanGraphs' Dave Cameron (ESPN Insider required).
- The Twins will utilize the remainder of the offseason to figure out how the team will use right-hander Kyle Gibson as he returns from Tommy John surgery, writes Phil Mackey of 1500ESPN.com. Minnesota plans to look at how the Braves cautiously handled Kris Medlen's return from Tommy John surgery last season.
Teams like saving money and extending their control over top young players. Why wouldn't they? Having impact players on affordable contracts simplifies a GM's job. As a result, teams call top young players up strategically every season to control their service time and, in doing so, delay their free agency and/or limit their earnings.
Though service time is a consideration all season long, it's most evident at two times: in April and again midseason, around early June. If teams wait until a few weeks after the season has begun to call a prospect up for his MLB debut, the player doesn't collect a full year of service time, which delays his free agency by a year.
The precise date until which teams must wait before calling prospects up varies each year and according to whether players are on the 40-man roster. Now that we're nearly three weeks into the season, even prospects on the 40-man roster can be called up, since they have spent the requisite 20-day period in the minor leagues.
None of the following prospects have big league service time, which means that their teams can call them up at any point and keep them through the 2017 season, if not longer: Dustin Ackley, Lonnie Chisenhall, Brett Lawrie, Mike Moustakas, Jesus Montero, Eric Hosmer, Julio Teheran, Manny Banuelos, Kyle Gibson and Jordan Lyles.
On the other hand, Michael Pineda, Zach Britton and Brandon Belt are now in the majors, picking up service time. Because those players are now on MLB rosters, they're currently on track to hit free agency after the 2016 season. However, if their respective teams option them to the minors for 20 days or more, their path to free agency could be slowed as well (that's an immediate possibility for Belt and a long-term one for the pair of impressive rookie hurlers).
That may sounds complicated, but it's the easy part. Later this spring, in late May and early June, the guessing game begins. Teams do not (and can not) know exactly when future cutoffs for super two status will be, so if they want to play it safe and ensure that prospects like Montero and Ackley only go to arbitration three times, they'll want to wait until at least the middle of June before calling them up.
Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos told Jon Heyman of SI.com that he thought carefully before locking up Jose Bautista to a $65MM extension. "When you spend that kind of money, I don't think you can ever be completely comfortable," Anthopoulos said. "And I am one to agonize over everything, anyway,'' Both Anthopoulos and Bautista acknowledged that a second 54-homer season is unlikely, but that doesn't mean the former utility player can't produce. Here are the rest of Heyman's rumors...
- Boston's front office has not seriously considered cutting Tim Wakefield.
- Dennys Reyes, who can opt out of his contract Friday, will likely make the team as well, according to Heyman.
- Two scouts say Marlins third baseman Matt Dominguez isn't ready to hit in the major leagues. However, he's an above-average defender.
- Though manager Joe Girardi won't say as much, Ivan Nova has locked up the Yankees' No. 4 starter job, according to Heyman.
- It appears that Oliver Perez will find a job. The Yankees and Brewers aren't interested.
- Scouts tell Heyman that Twins pitching prospect Kyle Gibson isn't far from the majors.
- The Yankees will soon add Dustin Moseley to their roster, probably at the expense of Chan Ho Park or Chad Gaudin, according to Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News (via Twitter). Moseley's opt-out clause kicks in tomorrow.
- Reds GM Walt Jocketty told MLB.com's Mark Sheldon that he's looking at pitching, though the team has a limited number of 'bullets' to fire this summer.
- A veteran scout told Tom Krasovic of AOL FanHouse that Mark Prior was "just all right" in his workout today (Twitter link). Prior, who last pitched in the majors in 2006, is attempting a comeback.
- Nationals GM Mike Rizzo told Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post that he would like the Nats to become “younger, better [and] more athletic” if they make trades this summer.
- Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times notes that the Phillies scouted last night's Yankees-Mariners game and wonders if the Phils are eyeing Jose Lopez, who could fill in for Chase Utley and Placido Polanco.
- The Nationals appear satisfied with hot-hitting Roger Bernadina in right field, but they did have interest in David DeJesus at one point, according to MLB.com's Bill Ladson (via Twitter).
- Two executives told MLB.com’s Peter Gammons that there's no way the Twins will give up pitcher Kyle Gibson this summer. Like Cardinals prospect Shelby Miller, Gibson is a 2009 draft pick who signed late, so he would have to be dealt as a ‘player to be named later’ in any July trade.
- Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports hears that the Padres had interest in Eric Patterson before the Red Sox acquired him over the weekend (Twitter link).
The Twins signed 22nd overall pick Kyle Gibson for $1.8MM, according to Jim Callis of Baseball America. Slot for the position: $1.287MM. Gibson's predraft stock dropped when he suffered a stress fracture in his throwing arm. Gibson is a college righty from the University of Missouri. Click here for MLB.com's scouting report.
A few more loose draft links...
- Nick Piecoro of The Arizona Repubic reports that the Diamondbacks have made a new offer to seventh round pick Matt Helm, but it will only be the table for another two hours. Piecoro notes that Helm said he was looking for third round money last month.
- Joe Christensen of the Star Tribune notes that the Twins are stil in talks with first rounder Kyle Gibson. Over the weekend we learned that the two sides were about $1MM apart. Christensen also mentions that 44th rounder Tyler Herr has agreed to terms.
- Peter Abraham of The Journal News says the Yankees have come to an agreement with 21st rounder Joe Talerico.
- ESPN's Keith Law confirms that righty David Buchanan will not be signing with the Mets. He was their sixth rounder.