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Lorenzo Cain Rumors
The Braves have told some teams they would be willing to move Jair Jurrjens and Martin Prado in a trade, a Major League source tells MLB.com's Mark Bowman. Atlanta is known to be looking for a power-hitting outfielder and possibly a new shortstop, so either could be acquired in a Jurrjens/Prado trade, or at the very least the Braves could pick up some salary relief — both Jurrjens and Prado are arbitration-eligible for the second time this winter.
The Braves and Royals have already discussed a Jurrjens trade, and the Braves have an interest in minor league outfielders Lorenzo Cain and Wil Myers, amongst several other prospects in K.C.'s deep farm system. The Royals are known to be targeting veteran starting pitching on the trade market this winter so the two sides would seem like a fit as trading partners. As Bowman notes, Cain could be seen by the Braves as a future center field option if Michael Bourn isn't signed to an extension.
Jurrjens was an All-Star in 2011, though the right-hander struggled badly (a 5.88 ERA) in the second half of the season and spent time on the DL with a knee injury. While Jurrjens' health is a question mark, Myers also took a minor step back (a .745 OPS in Double-A) in 2011 after being ranked as the 10th-best prospect in the sport in Baseball America's preseason rankings. Myers is still just 20, however, and was converted to the outfield this year after spending his first two pro seasons as a catcher.
After an impressive 2010 season that saw him finish ninth in NL MVP voting, Prado took a step back in 2011, hitting .260/.302/.385 as Atlanta's everyday left fielder. Prado's ability to play left, third, first and second base would make him an intriguing trade possibility for a number of teams, especially since he could be available at a somewhat buy-low price.
Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star answered a number of Royals-related questions during an online chat with fans today. Here are a few of the more notable items…
- The Royals' highly-touted farm system has more depth than ever, so Dutton explains that this wave of prospects will be different than past (failed) "youth movements" in Kansas City. "Will some guys flop? Absolutely," Dutton writes. "But the depth is so good that not ALL of them will flop. Some should be really good."
- Dutton thinks Mike Moustakas will be in the majors by June, but Eric Hosmer may be a September call-up at best since K.C. wants to give Kila Ka'aihue "an extended look."
- Speaking of Ka'aihue, Dutton notes that if Hosmer lives up to expectations, the question for Kansas City becomes whether Ka'aihue or Billy Butler is the better long-term DH. You'd expect Butler would have the edge given his proven hitting abilty and recent contract extension, but that team-friendly deal (four years/$30MM, plus a 2015 team option) could make Butler very attractive on the trade market.
- Moustakas' arrival could turn Wilson Betemit into "trade bait," but Dutton notes that Betemit could take over at second if Chris Getz can't handle the job.
- The Royals have no interest in Michael Young. He's both too costly and would block "high-quality alternatives" from the minors at various infield positions.
- "The Royals appear committed to opening the season with Melky Cabrera in center," Dutton writes. Kansas City signed Cabrera before they acquired Lorenzo Cain from Milwaukee, but Dutton notes that Cain could he called up from the minors should he play well. Cabrera is only slated to earn $1.25MM in 2011, so the Royals wouldn't be sending a lot of money to the bench if Cain usurped the center field job. Dutton mentions later in the chat that the Royals can be flexible with Cain since he has minor league options left.
- Dutton thinks the Blue Jays and Braves will regret trading minor league left-hander Tim Collins. The 21-year-old was sent to Atlanta in the Yunel Escobar deal last summer and then became a Royal at the trade deadline as part of the package that sent Kyle Farnsworth and Rick Ankiel to the Braves.
- "It's a long shot" that the Royals would try to sign Zack Greinke after the right-hander's contract expires after 2012.
The Brewers entered this offseason with the goal of upgrading their rotation. Today, they acquired Zack Greinke, Yuniesky Betancourt, and $2MM from the Royals for Lorenzo Cain, Alcides Escobar, Jeremy Jeffress, and Jake Odorizzi. The Royals have confirmed the move in a press release. After already acquiring Shaun Marcum in exchange for Brett Lawrie last month, it's safe to say Milwaukee has accomplished its goal.
Greinke, 27, had been one of the winter's most discussed trade candidates, with rumors picking up steam after the right-hander requested a trade earlier this weekend. Although many clubs reportedly inquired on and pursued the Royals ace, a trade was no sure thing, due to Greinke's no-trade clause and the Royals' high asking price. However, neither issue ultimately proved to be an obstacle for the Brewers, who had made repeated attempts to acquire the righty despite being on his no-trade list, according to Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Twitter links).
During his time in Kansas City, Greinke posted a 3.82 ERA in 1108 innings, including a 3.25 ERA and 8.4 K/9 over the last three years. Prior to his Cy Young campaign in 2009, Greinke signed a four-year extension, meaning he'll remain under Milwaukee's control for two more seasons, at a cost of $13.5MM per year.
Escobar, who turned 24 earlier this week, was viewed by Baseball America as the Brewers' top prospect heading into the 2010 season, his first full year in the bigs. Although he struggled at the plate, hitting .235/.288/.326 in 552 plate appearances, Escobar provided above-average defense at shortstop, according to UZR. Baseball America's scouting report prior to the season dubbed Escobar a "defensive whiz" and a "special defender," while also citing a hope that he'd develop into a solid leadoff option. The 24-year-old's minor league numbers (.293/.333/.377, 176 SB) indicate that his offensive game should continue to improve at the major league level.
Cain, 24, was considered one of the Brewers' top 10 prospects even before a hugely successful 2010 campaign. After hitting .317/.402/.432 across two minor league levels, Cain received his first shot at the bigs, and posted a .306/.348/.415 slash line in 148 plate appearances in Milwaukee. Like Escobar, Cain's primary strengths are his speed and athleticism. Baseball America suggested before the 2010 season that he "could be a more prolific and successful basestealer," and Cain responded by stealing 33 bases in 37 attempts between the minors and majors. According to Baseball America, the former 17th-round pick shows "flashes of power but is mostly a gap hitter."
Both pitching prospects heading to Kansas City are former first round picks; the Brewers selected Jeffress with the 16th overall pick in the 2006 draft, while Odorizzi was taken 32nd overall in 2008. Jeffress' path to the bigs has been sidetracked by repeated suspensions for substance abuse. His most recent violation resulted in a 100-game ban that saw him miss significant chunks of the 2009 and 2010 seasons. Jeffress' fastball has touched 100 mph and Baseball America raved that he had "as much sheer talent" as any player in the Brewers' system heading into this season, but his off-field issues and control problems (5.5 BB/9 in his minor league career) had slowed his development.
Odorizzi, meanwhile, was rated by some teams as the best high school pitcher in the 2008 draft, according to Baseball America. Just 20 years old, Odorizzi is the only player in the deal who has yet to see major league action, but he turned in an impressive year at Class A Wisconsin, recording a 3.43 ERA and 10.1 K/9 in 120 2/3 innings. ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick notes in a tweet that the two right-handers were ranked first (Odorizzi) and third (Jeffress) in Milwaukee's system in Baseball America's upcoming Prospect Handbook.
The Brewers had long indicated a desire to shore up a starting rotation whose 4.65 ERA ranked near the bottom of the National League in 2010. Moving a handful of young players in two trades, while hanging on to Prince Fielder, suggests that the club feels they can immediately contend in the NL Central.
Credit Jim Breen of Bernie's Crew with the scoop last night, with an assist to Andrew Wagner of OnMilwaukee.com. ESPN's Buster Olney confirmed the story this morning, while Kevin Goldstein from Baseball Prospectus cleared up some conflicting reports and confirmed that Jeffress would indeed be included in the deal (via Twitter).
MLBTR's Luke Adams and Steve Adams contributed to this post.
The Braves and Brewers continue to discuss trades that would send an outfielder to Atlanta for a young pitcher, reports MLB.com's Mark Bowman. However, the Brewers are more inclined to move Carlos Gomez than Lorenzo Cain. The Brewers requested Mike Minor for Cain, and the Braves balked at trading him or their other top young arms.
Links for Tuesday, exactly five years after the Blue Jays signed A.J. Burnett to a five-year, $55MM deal. Now with the Yankees, Burnett's part of a Yankees rotation that's very much in flux. Here are today's links…
- The Cardinals announced on Twitter that they avoided arbitration with Ryan Theriot, signing the infielder to a one-year deal for 2011. Fanhouse's Steve Phillips says the deal is for $3.3MM.
- A Los Angeles judge ruled that Frank McCourt is not the sole owner of the Dodgers and the ruling is not expected to impact the team's day-to-day operations, according to Bill Shaikin and Carla Hall of the LA Times. If anything, the Dodgers have spent more aggressively than usual this winter.
- The Mets talked to Freddy Garcia's representatives at some point before the meetings, but the right-hander is not the team's top priority, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post (on Twitter).
- Manny Delcarmen, who was non-tendered by the Rockies last week, is drawing interest from two AL East teams (but not the Red Sox) according to Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com (on Twitter).
- Carlos Gomez is available, according to David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (on Twitter). The Brewers want pitching for Gomez and are reluctant to part with Lorenzo Cain.
- Quiet day for the Reds – GM Walt Jocketty tells MLB.com's Mark Sheldon that he's had "zero" discussions with teams or agents today (Twitter link).
- The Diamondbacks have some interest in Henry Blanco, but the catcher isn't expected to decide on his next team at the meetings, according to Jack Magruder of FOXSportsArizona (on Twitter).
- Derek Jeter told reporters, including Ben Shpigel of the New York Times, that he was bothered by how public his contract negotiations became.
5:52pm: There's some tension between the Braves and Brewers, since Atlanta initially heard that Cain was available and are now hearing he isn't a trade chip, according to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com (Twitter links). Brewers GM Doug Melvin told Crasnick he has to be open to deals for any player, though.
2:27pm: The Brewers don't want to and aren't looking to move Cain but will listen, tweets Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.
12:06pm: Our hunch was correct; MLB.com's Mark Bowman reports that the Braves are among the teams showing interest in Cain.
Cain, 25 in April, is expected to compete for the Brewers' starting center field job next year with Carlos Gomez and Chris Dickerson. He did a nice job in 158 big league plate appearances this year and had a .402 OBP in 380 minor league PAs. Pure speculation, but maybe the Braves could match up if they're not keen on trying Nate McLouth or Jordan Schafer in center next year.
The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel's Tom Haudricourt has some updates for Brewers fans as the organization looks to the future. It appears that Corey Hart's recent three-year extension may only be the beginning as the Brew Crew tries to set itself up for future success.
The Brewers will offer an extension to Rickie Weeks, who's enjoying a fine rebound season after an injury-shortened 2009. The former number-two overall pick is hitting .272/.368/.485 with 23 home runs and seven steals on the year. His speed numbers may be down, but Weeks still remains a power/speed combination and an offensive force at second base. Weeks will need to replace his agent, and once he accomplishes that, an extension will be offered.
One player who the Brewers likely won't be able to agree with is Prince Fielder. The Scott Boras client was offered an extension in the neighborhood of five years and $100MM, but the Brewers completely cut off talks when they learned he was seeking nearly double that amount — likely looking for a deal similar to Mark Teixeira's eight-year, $180MM contract. Haudricourt says that the Brewers won't advertise it for now, but they're likely to shop Fielder this offseason to bolster their rotation.
Losing Fielder leaves a hole in the offense, but it's possible the club is looking to replace him with Mat Gamel, or move Hart to first base and place Gamel in right field. As Haudricourt points out, Hart was drafted as a first baseman, and his 6'6" frame is conducive to the position.
It's possible that Lorenzo Cain dethrones Carlos Gomez as the club's everyday center fielder. The Brewers were clearly looking for more than Gomez's .286 OBP when they traded J.J. Hardy to Minnesota for him this past offseason.
If Milwaukee does indeed try to make Fielder available, there will be no shortage of suitors. While the free agent market does feature Adam Dunn, the majority of others consist of injury risks, fading stars, players coming off career years, or some combination of the three.
Let’s round up today’s C.C. Sabathia links in a fresh post.
- The Brewers’ trade for ace pitcher C.C. Sabathia is official. As a reminder, the Indians will receive Matt LaPorta, Rob Bryson, Zach Jackson, and maybe Taylor Green. Paul Hoynes says Michael Brantley could end up the player to be named later instead of Green. Ken Rosenthal suggests Lorenzo Cain may also still be possible. MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo analyzes the prospects received by the Indians.
- Here’s an interesting link. This is apparently the blog of agent Joshua Kusnick of Double Diamond Sports Management. Among others, Kusnick represents Cain, Brantley, and Green. He says Green hasn’t been informed of anything but seems more likely to be included than Brantley.
- Yahoo’s Jeff Passan calls the package of players an "OK haul."
- ESPN’s Keith Law agrees, suggesting that Mark Shapiro should’ve held out for a higher probability return. He sees Bryson as the key to the deal. The 20 year-old is a projectable live arm.
- Joel Sherman says the Brewers aren’t done – they want to add a late-inning reliever as well.
- Indians owner Paul Dolan explains the Sabathia trade in a letter to fans.
- Rosenthal has details of other teams’ attempts to acquire Sabathia. He says the Dodgers wanted the Indians to package Sabathia with Casey Blake. Surprisingly, the Yankees were "very heavily involved." They did not want to give up Phil Hughes, however.
- Most articles seem to assume that the Brewers have no chance of signing Sabathia. I agree that it’s unlikely, but I wouldn’t rule it out. We’ve read repeatedly that Sabathia does not intend to chase every last dollar. What if he loves Milwaukee and he leads the team deep into the playoffs? The Brewers could let Ben Sheets and Eric Gagne leave and put that money toward a competitive five-year Sabathia offer. It’s not out of the question.
- Olney says the Brewers restructured their offer today. That offer is believed to include Matt LaPorta plus lesser prospects. Haudricourt suspects those prospects might be Taylor Green and Lorenzo Cain. Haudricourt says the Indians have the Brewers’ offer in hand and Milwaukee GM Doug Melvin is waiting to hear back. Olney says the Brewers are looking at some Plan B starters in case they don’t win the Sabathia sweepstakes.
- Olney also has the Rays, Dodgers, and Phillies in the Sabathia talks. Those teams all have their issues. The Rays may not have the motivation, the Dodgers are being vague about who’s available, and the Phillies’ best talent is at the lower levels.