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Nick Markakis underwent fusion surgery to repair a herniated disk in his neck yesterday, but the Braves expect their new right fielder to be 100 percent by Opening Day, writes MLB.com’s Mark Bowman. President of baseball operations John Hart spoke with surgeon Steve Wray, who performed the procedure, and came away with the impression that aside from some possible disruption of his pre-Spring Training routine, Markakis would be fine. He’s expected to be cleared for physical activity within a month’s time and to be fully agile in six weeks.
Some more notes from the Senior Circuit to kick off your Thursday morning…
- The Rockies are interested in right-hander Kyle Kendrick as a potential back-of-the-rotation option, tweets ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick. The 30-year-old Kendrick pitched a career-high 199 innings last season, and Crasnick notes that his career 46.1 percent ground-ball rate is of interest to Colorado. That mark isn’t too far above the league average, but it’s an improvement over Franklin Morales and Christian Bergman, each of whom logged significant innings in Colorado’s rotation last year. Kendrick’s upside is limited, but he’d be a relatively low-cost option to soak up some innings in a shaky rotation.
- Wilmer Flores is still likely to open next season as the Mets‘ shortstop, writes Marc Carig of Newsday, but a source tells Carig that the team does have interest in Stephen Drew and Everth Cabrera on low-risk, one-year deals. Previous reports have indicated that the Mets weren’t interested in Cabrera. The team hasn’t ruled out bidding on Korean shortstop Jung-ho Kang, but they’re likely to pass due to concerns over his defense. Those same concerns have halted their interest in Asdrubal Cabrera from progressing beyond internal discussions.
- In a video blog, ESPN’s Buster Olney opines that the Padres are in perfect position to try to squeeze some extra money out of the Dodgers in their deal for Matt Kemp. While the deal is expected to be completed, Olney notes that Kemp’s medicals are “ugly,” and the Dodgers need the trade more than the Padres do. The Dodgers are reportedly set to send $32MM to the Padres as it is.
- The Padres aren’t done making moves even after striking deals to acquire Kemp and Wil Myers, writes Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune. One possible minor addition, he reports, is veteran catcher David Ross, who is still “considering” the Padres.
With Jon Lester off the market, we should start to see some dominoes fall. Here are the latest pitching rumors from around baseball.
- Talks between the Tigers and Red Sox have yet to gain any traction, tweets Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald.
- The Red Sox have yet to engage the Phillies on Hamels, Stark reports (Twitter links). It is early, of course, though perhaps it would have been expected that Boston would immediate move to that option. The team is, however, working on several other deals including a previously-rumored swap involving Yoenis Cespedes and Rick Porcello.
- After missing on Lester, the Giants have interest in dealing for Hamels, sources tell Jayson Stark of ESPN.com (via Twitter). Earlier rumors that San Francisco is casting a wide net appear to have been well-founded, as the team has been reported to have at least some involvement in a wide variety of possible additions.
- The Twins have interest in Kyle Kendrick and have already had a meeting in San Diego, Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN tweets.
- Dillon Gee is the most likely Mets pitcher to go in trade, followed by Jon Niese and Bartolo Colon, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (via Twitter). The Rangers aren’t enamored with the Mets’ pitching but the Royals and Twins have been mentioned as possibilities.
- The Red Sox aren’t currently close on acquiring Cole Hamels from the Phillies, sources tell Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter). They could now turn their attention to Diamondbacks pitcher Wade Miley instead and one of five other pitchers that they have their eyes on. James Shields could also be a free agent option for Boston.
- Two unnamed owners traveled to the winter meetings to meet with Max Scherzer‘s agent Scott Boras, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Scherzer’s market should develop after Lester signed for $155MM over six years, but he’s aiming much higher this winter. The losers in the Lester derby – the Giants, Red Sox, and Dodgers – could all be candidates for Scherzer with the Giants being the one team in the group certain to take a serious look.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Arizona Diamondbacks | Bartolo Colon | Boston Red Sox | Chicago Cubs | Cole Hamels | Detroit Tigers | Dillon Gee | James Shields | Jon Niese | Kansas City Royals | Kyle Kendrick | Los Angeles Dodgers | Minnesota Twins | New York Mets | Newsstand | Philadelphia Phillies | San Francisco Giants | Texas Rangers | Wade Miley
The Nationals made Ian Desmond a seven-year, $107MM extension offer last year, Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post reports, though that also included contract deferrals that would have reduced its true value. Negotiations are expected to pick back up in the months to come, per Kilgore, and that offer will presumably be the starting point. Desmond, who put up another strong year and is now one year away from the open market, is one key piece of the team’s increasingly pressing long-term strategic questions.
Here’s the latest out of the division:
- The Marlins‘ interest in the starting pitching market is fairly diverse, as Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald reports. Possible trade targets range from buy-low (Ubaldo Jimenez) to buy-high (Johnny Cueto), and interest on the free agent markets includes Kyle Kendrick and Ervin Santana. The unifying force here is probably the expected ability of these varying arms to provide innings; as I noted yesterday, the Fish hope to add a solid, veteran presence to their staff.
- Spencer also spoke with the Miami brass about Giancarlo Stanton, and discusses the team’s reasoning for trying to build a winner around him now, even if an extension cannot ultimately be worked out. “We’re trying to get away from that, that we have to trade everybody because they get expensive,” Hill said. “Enough of that. We want to win. We want to keep as many of our pieces as we can.”
- There are “a lot of good fits” for Phillies outfielder Marlon Byrd, who is likely to be traded, sources tell Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com. Philadelphia is seeing interest in Ben Revere as well.
- Of course, the flashier chip for the Phils is lefty Cole Hamels. As Salisbury reports, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. says “the free agent market will kind of dictate where this thing goes,” referring to the possibility of striking a deal. “[A]t some point the dominores will start to fall and then we’ll see where it takes us,” said Amaro, who notes that there is no need to deal Hamels since he “traverses the timeline” of contention that the club has in mind.
- Hamels would prefer to be dealt, according to a report from Bob Nightengale of USA Today. Nightengale provides additional teams to which Hamels cannot decline a trade (on top of the previously-reported Cubs): the Yankees and Rangers are the two A.L. clubs, with the Dodgers, Nationals, Cardinals, Braves, and Padres among the National League teams.
- The Braves increasingly sound inclined to aim for the near future, and we’ve already heard several prominent names listed as possible trade candidates. MLB.com’s Mark Bowman provides two more, via Twitter: reliever Jordan Walden (who projects to earn $3MM in arbitration) and young second baseman Tommy La Stella.
- Braves president of baseball operations John Hart says the sides will “need to get creative” to work out a deal to keep Kris Medlen, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports. While the team has every hope of keeping the righty, his second Tommy John procedure and $5.8MM projected arb price tag do not make for a straightforward situation given the team’s tight payroll. Sherman suggests that a significantly lower guarantee, combined with incentives and a 2016 option, could be palatable for both sides. It seems that Medlen would be able to do better, however, were he to force the Braves’ hand: he would either be tendered a contract, or hit the open market with plenty of suitors given his upside.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Atlanta Braves | Ben Revere | Chicago Cubs | Cole Hamels | Ervin Santana | Free Agent Market | Giancarlo Stanton | Ian Desmond | Johnny Cueto | Jordan Walden | Kris Medlen | Kyle Kendrick | Los Angeles Dodgers | Marlon Byrd | Miami Marlins | New York Yankees | Philadelphia Phillies | San Diego Padres | St. Louis Cardinals | Texas Rangers | Tommy La Stella | Ubaldo Jimenez | Washington Nationals
Today is the bicentennial of The Star-Spangled Banner. MLB.com’s Doug Miller chronicles the link between our country’s national anthem and its national pastime from the first time it was sung before a baseball game (May 15, 1862) to the great and not-so-great renditions. From the national anthem to the National League East, here are today’s notes from the division:
- Rafael Soriano is making progress after working on his mechanics, but there is no timetable to reinstall him as the Nationals‘ closer, according to James Wagner of the Washington Post. MLBTR’s Jeff Todd noted recently Soriano’s $14MM club option for 2015 will not vest and the Nationals are all but certain to decline the option making him an interesting free agent to watch.
- Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg won’t speak ill of Ryan Howard or suggest a trade would make sense, but he admits a move to first base could be beneficial for Chase Utley, writes the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Matt Gelb. “I think playing first base would eliminate a little wear and tear at that position,” Sandberg said. “Whether that’s a consideration or not has yet to be seen.” Gelb suggests a plan for 2015 where Utley is slated to play about 130 games with 100 of them at first base.
- Kyle Kendrick isn’t sure if he made his final home start in a Phillies‘ uniform last night, but it sounds like he’d like to stay put in Philadelphia, if possible. “I don’t know what’s going to happen. It’s out of my control. But if I’m somewhere else, I’ll miss it,” Kendrick told reporters, including Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com.
- The Mets have shut down left-hander Dana Eveland for the remainder of the season because of elbow inflammation, reports MLB.com’s Tim Healey. The 30-year-old, who will become a free agent at the end of the season, has had a career year with the Mets posting a 2.63 ERA, 8.9 K/9, and 2.0 BB/9 in 30 relief outings (27 1/3 innings).
Following a tough start on Tuesday night, A.J. Burnett sounded as if retirement was on his mind when asked by reporters if he planned to pitch in 2015. “I have no idea. Probably not, but we’ll see,” Burnett told the media, including Marc Narducci of the Philadelphia Inquirer. As Narducci notes, Burnett’s comments could be stemming from frustration given how both he and the Phillies have struggled this season, so it’s too early to assume Burnett is hanging up his glove. Narducci also cites Burnett’s competitive nature and his increasingly pricey player option for 2015 as reasons why the veteran righty won’t want to end his career quite yet.
Here’s some more from the City of Brotherly Love…
- In a radio interview with Mike Missanelli of 97.5FM radio yesterday, ESPN’s Jayson Stark said he wasn’t surprised that team president David Montgomery recently gave GM Ruben Amaro a vote of confidence but Stark feels no decision has been made about Amaro’s future yet. The Phillies’ other owners could get involved, and the anti-Amaro sentiment amongst the team’s fans could also play a role. “They are certainly going to make changes in the organization. There’s a lot of rumors swirling about all sorts of stuff below Ruben,” Stark said. With just one left year on Amaro’s contract, if the Phillies decide to keep him, Stark wonders if the GM could actually receive an extension in order to avoid lame-duck status. (Hat tip to Peter Mucha of Philly.com for the partial transcript of Stark’s interview.)
- “There are indications” the Phillies will make a strong play for Cuban outfielder Yasmani Tomas, CSNPhilly.com’s Jim Salisbury reports. Tomas is expected to become eligible to sign this offseason, and the recently-defected outfielder is considered to be an intriguing power prospect.
- Burnett retiring would only make the Phillies’ offseason need for starting pitching all the more dire, Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News writes. The Phillies could have as many as three rotation spots to fill given Cliff Lee‘s injury issues, Burnett’s uncertain status and pending free agency for Kyle Kendrick and Jerome Williams. Lawrence predicts the Phils will target mid-tier starters this winter given how much payroll space is already tied up by Lee and Cole Hamels.
- Speaking of Kendrick, the right-hander recently discussed his free agency in general terms with reporters, including MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki. Kendrick isn’t sure if he’ll remain in Philadelphia, saying “I want to go where whoever wants me. That’s where I want to go. If it’s here, great. If they want me. You want to go somewhere where you’re wanted. We’ll see. I don’t know.”
- Ken Giles looks like a closer of the future for the Phillies, and ESPN’s Buster Olney (Insider subscription required) suggests that that the team could take the bold step of installing Giles as the closer right now. The switch could also prevent Jonathan Papelbon from reaching his $13MM vesting option for 2016, which would help increase Papelbon’s trade value. Olney notes that Papelbon could easily file a grievance over the situation, though I’d argue that given Papelbon’s past comments about wanting to play for a contender, he might begrudgingly go along with the move if it helps get him out of Philadelphia.
Now that we’re beyond the July 31st trade deadline, players must pass through revocable trade waivers in order to be dealt to another team. MLBTR’s Jeff Todd broke down the August trade rules and what it means when you see several major names placed on waivers over the next few weeks.
Here are today’s notable players who have reportedly been placed on revocable waivers…
- Also going on revocable waivers today were Jason Hammel of the Athletics and Wade Miley of the Diamondbacks, Rosenthal tweets. As Rosenthal notes, it seems likely that clubs will claim Miley, but that he will be pulled back by Arizona. As for Hammel, a deal still seems rather unlikely since Oakland dealt away some important rotation depth in Tommy Milone.
- Hitting the wire today from the Phillies were Marlon Byrd, Jonathan Papelbon, Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Cole Hamels, and Carlos Ruiz, Rosenthal tweets. They will be on waivers until Wednesday.
- The Phillies placed Antonio Bastardo, A.J. Burnett, Roberto Hernandez, Ryan Howard and Kyle Kendrick on revocable waivers, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports (via Twitter). The moves all took place on Saturday, so since the waiver period lasts 47 hours, we could know by today if any of the players were claimed. I’d expect Bastardo and Burnett to be claimed given that both drew significant interest before the July 31st deadline, and there is virtually no chance any team would claim Howard and risk being stuck with the roughly $68MM remaining on his contract.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: A.J. Burnett | Antonio Bastardo | Arizona Diamondbacks | Carlos Ruiz | Chase Utley | Cole Hamels | Jason Hammel | Jimmy Rollins | Jonathan Papelbon | Kyle Kendrick | Marlon Byrd | Oakland Athletics | Philadelphia Phillies | Placed On Revocable Waivers | Roberto Hernandez | Ryan Howard | Wade Miley
Steve Cishek‘s name has begun appearing in trade talks, suggesting that the Marlins could be sellers, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports writes. Another Marlins reliever, Mike Dunn, might also be a trade possibility, although the Marlins still do not want to trade Giancarlo Stanton. The Marlins had hoped to add talent at the deadline, but they’re now at 45-52 and would have a tough swim against the current to make it to the playoffs. Cishek, a proven closer who’s making just $3.8MM this year, would be a very desirable trade target. Here are more notes from around the big leagues.
- The Competitive Balance Lottery will take place in New York on Wednesday, MLB.com’s Jim Callis notes. Thanks to their market size and/or revenue pools, the Athletics, Brewers, Cardinals, Diamondbacks, Indians, Marlins, Orioles, Padres, Pirates, Rays, Reds, Rockies and Royals will each be in the running for one of six 2015 supplemental first-round picks. The Mariners, Twins and teams from the above list that miss on a first-rounder will each vie for one of six supplemental second-round picks. Callis notes that these picks are especially valuable under the current draft system, since each supplemental pick adds money to the pool from which a team is allowed to spend on picks from the first ten rounds of the draft. Teams are also allowed to trade competitive balance picks.
- After missing two months with an elbow injury, Cliff Lee will rejoin the Phillies‘ rotation on Monday , giving interested teams a couple chances to watch him before the trade deadline, writes Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com. Given his contract, Castrovince notes, Lee will need to pitch very well in order to be much of a trade asset. There’s also the chance Lee could be traded in August.
- The Blue Jays could consider the Phillies’ Kyle Kendrick if they aren’t able to make a higher-profile trade, CSNPhilly.com’s Jim Salisbury writes. A Jays scout watched Kendrick as he struggled in his start against the Braves on Sunday. It’s unclear what sort of return Kendrick might fetch — he has struggled this season, posting a 4.87 ERA, 5.5 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9 over 125 2/3 innings. Kendrick is eligible for free agency after the season.
Phillies right-hander Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez threw three innings in an extended Spring Training appearance and ramped his fastball up to 95 mph, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. tells CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury: “This was the first time we’ve seen [95 mph] since we signed him. He was really bringing it. It’s a good sign. He’s progressing.” Amaro said the plan for his team is to keep Gonzalez in the rotation, though many scouts do feel he is eventually ticketed for bullpen work. Here are some additional links on the Phillies and the rest of the division…
- David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News looks at the Phillies‘ biggest two flaws: their weakness outside the No. 3 through 6 spots in the lineup and a bullpen that lacks power arms. As Murphy points out, the No. 7 through 2 hitters in last night’s game entered with a combined five extra-base hits in 217 plate appearances, and only four of the bullpen’s arms are strikeout pitchers. Though the team is currently 15-15, one injury could significantly dampen the club’s outlook.
- If Kyle Kendrick can continue his current pace — a 3.58 ERA with 5.5 K/9, 2.4 BB/9 and a 52.7 percent ground-ball rate — he could do quite well for himself in free agency next winter, writes CSN Philly’s Corey Seidman. Seidman notes that while Kendrick wouldn’t be in the top two tiers of free agent starters, he could be one of the better third-tier options available. He looks at contracts such as the ones signed by Scott Feldman and Phil Hughes in noting that Kendrick would fetch a multi-year contract worth something similar to this season’s $7.675MM value.
- Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez wouldn’t comment on specifics regarding his second base dilemma when asked by Mark Bowman and Joe Morgan of MLB.com. However, the MLB.com duo reports that some Braves players have privately voiced the opinion that Tyler Pastornicky could be a productive replacement, and Bowman and Morgan add that there’s a chance the team could promote the hot-hitting Tommy La Stella from Triple-A as well. That move, however, could require the Braves to think long and hard about the possibility of biting the bullet on the remaining two years of Uggla’s contract.
- Andy Martino of the New York Daily News spoke with a veteran scout and asked about the Mets‘ top young arms — namely Jacob deGrom and Rafael Montero — to see if they could help the team’s floundering bullpen. The scout pegged deGrom as more of the relief type than Montero: “That’s the one who seems like he has a better chance. As a starter, I see him throw 94, touch 95. The he settles in around 92-92. If you bring him in for an inning, he could just blow it out.”
Kyle Kendrick of the Phillies is highly motivated as he prepares for free agency, Matt Gelb of the Inquirer writes. Gelb points to Jason Vargas, Scott Feldman and Ricky Nolasco — all of whom signed contracts worth at least $30MM — as potential comparables for Kendrick. "When similar guys close to your numbers sign those deals, that's a good thing," says Kendrick. Kendrick has never pitched more than 182 innings in a season, so 200 innings in 2014 would likely go a long way toward helping him strike gold on the free-agent market. Here's more from the National League.
- The Diamondbacks' fate will be determined primarily by returning players like Paul Goldschmidt and Patrick Corbin, but their additions of Mark Trumbo, Bronson Arroyo and Addison Reed could be what finally gets them past .500, Nick Piecoro of AZCentral.com writes. The Diamondbacks are also likely to receive a contribution from top prospect Archie Bradley, although the addition of Arroyo should allow the team to give Bradley some extra minor-league time. Bradley, 21, pitched most of last season at Double-A Mobile.
- Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez tells the Miami Herald's Clark Spencer (via Twitter) that he will make $635K in 2014, a very significant raise for a pre-arbitration player. Earlier in the day, the Marlins announced that they had signed all of their 28 pre-arbitration-eligible players. Fernandez, of course, is following up a stellar first season in which he won the Rookie of the Year award and finished third in NL Cy Young voting.
The ultimate lesson of the Phillies-Ben Wetzler affair, writes Baseball America's Aaron Fitt, is that leverage has shifted too far in favor of MLB teams in the amateur draft. Teams generally force quick (albeit legally non-binding) decisions by players on draft night, pressuring them to agree to accept below-slot deals. "The NCAA is going out there saying basically, don't get an advisor," an agent tells Fitt. "Meanwhile, MLB has changed the rules to where advisors are more necessary than ever." And now, Philadelphia's reporting (and the NCAA's suspension) of Wetzler for utilizing an agent adds a stick to the carrot of bonus money and the pressure of the short decision-making timeframe. Needless to say, Fitt advocates for a change to the system.
Here's more out of Philadelphia:
- Shoulder issues are putting an early strain on the Phils' pitching depth, reports Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Having already seen prospect Adam Morgan go under the knife, Philadelphia is now monitoring young pitchers Jonathan Pettibone (who threw a pen session after getting a cortisone shot for a lingering shoulder problem) and Ethan Martin (who took an MRI because he was dealing with pain and working well under peak velocity). It is worth noting that the team also lost a potentially valuable rotation depth piece when it waived Chad Gaudin over medical concerns.
- GM Ruben Amaro Jr. said that the injuries were not explainable, other than the fact that, "sometimes anatomy is just anatomy," reports CSNPhilly.com's Jim Salisbury. Noting that the organization had "one of the most state-of-the-art, medically sound organizations in baseball," Amaro indicated that the cluster of issues was plain bad luck. "You can't do anything about it, other than try to prevent it," said Amaro. "If the guy breaks, he breaks."
- One starting pitcher without apparent physical issue is Kyle Kendrick, who is entering his last season before reaching free agency. As Gelb reports, the 29-year-old righty says that this offseason's free agent spending spree — which included some sizeable deals for durable, mid-rotation arms — provided added motivation. "When similar guys close to your numbers sign those deals, that's a good thing," he said. " … Obviously you see them and you just want to put up better numbers." Though Kendrick hopes to remain in Philadelphia, he says, he has not had any talks with the club about a multi-year deal.