Livan Hernandez Rumors

Nationals Notes: Strasburg, Harper, Zimmermann

The Nationals expect Stephen Strasburg to return to the Major Leagues one week from today. Here are some links from D.C. in the meantime… 

  • Nationals manager Davey Johnson told Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post that he intends to handle Strasburg with "kid gloves" as the right-hander completes his return from the Tommy John surgery he underwent last September.
  • Livan Hernandez said today that he wants to return to Washington in 2012, even if it means working in middle relief next year, Kilgore reports (on Twitter).
  • Top 2010 draft pick Bryce Harper will suit up for the Scottsdale Scorpions of the Arizona Fall League this year, MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo writes. Harper, who made it to Double-A in his first professional season, is now recovering from a hamstring injury. 
  • Kilgore suggests Nationals starter Jordan Zimmermann could be an extension candidate this offseason. Zimmermann, a likely super two player, came back from Tommy John surgery to put together a fantastic season in 2011, but he has now reached his innings limit for the year.
  • For a look at a key member of the Nationals' front office, check out MLBTR's piece on GM candidate Bryan Minniti.

Nationals Notes: Morse, Desmond, Livan, Marquis

Michael Morse could be "the biggest bargain in baseball," writes Thomas Boswell of the Washington Post.  Morse, earning just $1.05MM this season, is hitting .311/.360/.552 for the Nats and is under team control through 2013.  Boswell warns that it could be too early for Washington to explore a multiyear deal with Morse, however, given that Jayson Werth "could be the next overvalued Vernon Wells" in terms of an albatross contract and Morse is still somewhat unproven.

Some more Nats notes, courtesy of another Washington Post writer, Adam Kilgore

  • Ian Desmond has drawn interest from several teams but the shortstop is considered one of the Nats' core players and GM Mike Rizzo has stated the club isn't moving any of those pieces.
  • Jason Marquis and Livan Hernandez are getting the most trade interest of any of Washington's starters, though the club isn't "actively shopping" either hurler.  Kilgore hears from one Major League executive that the Nats' "perception of [Marquis'] value exceeded that of the league’s" and thus Marquis wouldn't be dealt.
  • Ryan Zimmerman, who has known B.J. Upton since childhood, endorsed the idea of Upton coming to Washington.  "I mean, I like the team we have here,” Zimmerman said. “Anytime you had talented players to your team, it gives you a better chance to win. That’s the ultimate goal. If he’s going to help us win, I’d love to have him on our team.”  The Nationals have been interested in Upton for a while, but Kilgore notes that the team is looking for a long-term answer in center field and Upton is only under contract through 2012.

Nats Rumors: Storen, Clippard, Desmond, Gorzelanny

The Nationals are listening on top relievers Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, but such a trade would have to fill a specific long-term need such as center field.  Teams are calling on Storen, Clippard, and Todd Coffey.

Potential center field targets for Washington include B.J. Upton, Michael Bourn, Colby Rasmus, and Denard Span, writes Rosenthal.  He believes that a reliever alone probably would not bring back a center fielder, but the Nats could also trade shortstop Ian Desmond since some club officials would like to move Danny Espinosa to shortstop.

Storen is under team control through 2016, Clippard and Desmond through '15.  Desmond would be an interesting name for teams seeking shortstop help, though he's limped to a .226/.269/.311 line in 361 plate appearances this year. 

The Nationals also have starting pitching to spare, as ESPN's Jerry Crasnick tweets that they will move Jason Marquis, Livan Hernandez, and Tom Gorzelanny.  Gorzelanny is a bit of a surprise, as he's got strong strikeout and walk rates and is under team control through 2013.



Trade Candidates Who Are Currently Playing Well

Players who have performed well this month are more likely to intrigue buyers for at least two reasons. First of all, strong performance is an indication of health. Secondly, MLB teams have diverted some scouting efforts from amateurs to the pros since this year’s draft concluded about a month ago.

As a result, it’s fair to say that players who have been performing well this past month are more likely to draw interest at the trade deadline than players with similar overall numbers who had hot starts then cooled off later in the season. Here’s a look at some players who have been performing particularly well over the course of the past 30 days:

  • Michael Cuddyer – The Twins aren’t prepared to sell yet, but Cuddyer would be a candidate to go if they do decide 2011 isn’t their year. He has a .378/.458/.633 line this month.
  • Melky Cabrera – Cabrera is under team control through 2012 as an arbitration eligible player, so Kansas City’s front office may decide to keep him around for another year. His .342/.374/.470 line this month would appeal to contenders, though.
  • Mark Reynolds – The slugger has ten homers in the past 30 days after starting the season slowly. He earns $7.5MM in 2012 and has an $11MM option for 2013 ($500K buyout).
  • J.J. Hardy – Like Reynolds, Hardy had a power surge this month. He hit seven homers and added a .269/.306/.600 line. The Orioles are negotiating an extension with the shortstop, so there’s a good chance he stays in Baltimore.
  • Coco Crisp – Crisp has a respectable .298/.364/.426 line this month.
  • Carlos Pena – Like Reynolds, Pena strikes out a ton and has a low batting average. But his hot streaks can carry teams and he hit ten homers with a .240/.306/.600 line this month. Tim Dierkes examined Pena as a trade candidate earlier today.
  • Livan Hernandez – GM Mike Rizzo says the Nationals will be buyers and sellers this month. Presumably some rival clubs are hoping the dependable Hernandez is available this summer, since he has a 3.62 ERA with 7.2 K/9 and 1.4 BB/9 this month.
  • Edwin Jackson – It’s not surprising that clubs are inquiring on Jackson given that he has posted a 4.05 ERA with 9.1 K/9 and 1.4 BB/9 this month. And his 2.52 xFIP suggests he has pitched better than his ERA indicates.
  • Ryan Dempster – Across town, Dempster could draw interest as well. The right-hander has a 2.59 ERA with 7.8 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9 this month.
  • Carlos Villanueva – Though he may not be a trade candidate in the traditional sense, Villanueva’s success in the rotation has presumably drawn the attention of front offices around baseball. He has a 2.84 ERA with 5.4 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 this month.
  • Hiroki Kuroda – Kuroda will require compensation to waive his no-trade clause, but he is already drawing interest. The right-hander has a 2.30 ERA with 5.7 K/9 and 1.4 BB/9 this month.
  • Aramis Ramirez, Jose Reyes and Hunter Pence have been playing well, but it seems unlikely that they'll be dealt this month. I’m ignoring relievers, since many relievers have worked ten innings or less this month and that’s a minute sample size.

Quick Hits: Pelfrey, Pujols, Livan, Benoit, Astros

The Twins signed Joe Crede two years ago today in the hopes that he could replicate or improve upon the numbers he posted in 2008, when he made the All-Star team. Crede battled injuries and clubbed 15 homers in 90 games for Minnesota that year, but he hasn't played in the majors since. Crede remains a free agent after deciding not to report to Rockies camp. Here are today's links…

  • In a piece for ESPN.com, MLBTR's own Howard Megdal points out that Mets starter Mike Pelfrey has been far more consistent than anyone gives him credit for.
  • MLBPA leader Michael Weiner said the union would be open to a player owning a share of a team, according to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (on Twitter). The possibility came up when the Cardinals discussed an extension with Albert Pujols.
  • Weiner says he expects to make progress on the upcoming Collective Bargaining Agreement during Spring Training, according to Tim Reynolds of the AP (via the Miami Herald). Baseball's current agreement expires this offseason. 
  • Thomas Boswell of the Washington Post explains how Livan Hernandez and Nationals GM Mike Rizzo negotiated the right-hander's current contract.
  • Tigers reliever Joaquin Benoit told Dick Scanlon of the Detroit Free Press that he signed early because the Tigers made him a strong offer ($16.5MM) and he couldn't justify waiting around. "I didn't want to make a mistake of being too greedy and trying to wait and wait, get myself in a hole and wait to the last minute," Benoit said.
  • Astros GM Ed Wade told Stephen Goff of the Houston Astros Examiner that he expects better things from Carlos Lee in 2011 and that last year was an "aberration" for the outfielder.

Odds & Ends: Crawford, Ramirez, Hernandez, Orioles

Sunday night linkage..

  • The risk factor in signing Carl Crawford depends on the length of the deal given to him, tweets Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com.
  • In a pinch-hitting appearance, Manny Ramirez was ejected from today's game after the very first pitch for arguing balls and strikes.  Andrew Baggarly of the Mercury News wonders (via Twitter) if the slugger intentionally got himself tossed.
  • Nats GM Mike Rizzo says that Livan Hernandez deserved to receive a contract extension before the season's end, writes Gene Wang of the Washington Post.
  • The Orioles will end their 53-season relationship with Bluefield, West Virginia where the club has its Rookie-level affiliate, writes Dan Connolly of The Baltimore Sun.

Nationals Extend Livan Hernandez

4:21pm: MLB.com's Bill Ladson tweets that Hernandez received an incentive-laden contract with a $1MM base salary. If he can come anywhere near his 2010 performance, he'll be a steal at that price. Livan's been a 2.7 WAR pitcher so far, and Fangraphs values his performance at $10.7MM.

3:44pm: The Nationals have signed Livan Hernandez to a contract for 2011, tweets MASN's Ben Goessling. The team has confirmed the deal through a press release.

Hernandez has been a pleasant surprise for the Nationals in 2010, to say the very least. Expected to be a marginal innings eater at best, he's instead posted a 3.49 ERA through 175.1 innings. His minimal strikeout totals (4.7 K/9) are expected, but complemented with Hernandez's usual strong control (2.8 BB/9).

The Nationals can use all the rotation help they can get, on the heels of the news that phenom Stephen Strasburg has a significant tear of his ulnar collateral ligament and will likely undergo Tommy John surgery.

It may be unfair to expect an encore performance of the reborn Hernandez in 2011; he's allowing his fewest number of hits (almost exactly one per inning) since his All-Star campaign in 2004 with the Washington franchise when they were still based in Montreal. Still, if he can continue to limit the walks and home runs, he's a low-risk option to be a serviceable rotation arm at a reasonable price.


Cardinals Targeting Jake Westbrook

The Cardinals are targeting Jake Westbrook, rival teams tell ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark. The Cards are no longer pursuing Aaron Cook or Livan Hernandez, since they’re focused on the Indians right-hander. However, Stark hears that there’s just a 50% chance of a trade.

The Indians don’t want to absorb salary in a deal, but Westbrook will make about $4MM between now and the end of the season. He also obtains a $2MM bonus if the Indians trade him.

The Cardinals have been looking for an innings eater and Westbrook fits that description. The 32-year-old has posted a 4.65 ERA in 127.2 innings, with 5.1 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9. Westbrook is scheduled to face the Blue Jays tomorrow.


Odds & Ends: Reds, Happ, Edmonds, Rangers, Tigers

Links for Sunday, as Jim Thome cranks his 576th career home run….


Hernandez Wants To Retire As A National

Speaking to Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post, Livan Hernandez said on Saturday that he would like to return to Washington next season, and that he can picture himself spending the rest of his career in a Nationals uniform.

"To come back again next year, I would be really happy with something like that," said Hernandez. "This is something special, this year with the Nationals. It's a great organization. It's very classy and professional. I'm really happy to be here."

Kilgore notes that the 35-year-old has said he'd like to pitch for four more years, and when asked about the possibility of spending those years (and more) in Washington, Hernandez replied, "I wish. It would be really nice. When I retire, I'm thinking about working in baseball…. If they give me a chance, why not?"

Hernandez has exceeded every expectation the Nats had when they signed him for a minor league deal this winter. He leads the Nats in innings (132.2) by a wide margin, and his 3.12 ERA represents a career-best. Even so, it's hard to imagine any team investing in Hernandez on a multi-year deal, given his 5.45 mark from 2007-09 and his mediocre peripherals this year. If he does pitch four more seasons, Hernandez may end up signing three or four more contracts, whether with Washington or another club.