Los Angeles Dodgers Rumors

Los Angeles Dodgers trade and free agent rumors from MLBTradeRumors.com.

International Notes: Martinez, Fox, KBO

A few notes on the international prospect front…

  • The Giants were among the clubs to scout 20-year-old Cuban center fielder Eddy Julio Martinez in the Dominican Republic recently, reports MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez (All Twitter links). At this time, the Giants, Yankees, Angels, Blue Jays, Nationals, Rockies, Tigers and Dodgers are all in the mix for Martinez. One scout placed the lofty comp of a young Andruw Jones on Martinez, Sanchez adds, though clearly not every scout will be quite that bullish. Martinez is expected to work out for more clubs this week and is eligible to sign at any time.
  • Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN tweeted recently that the Twins are also among the teams to have scouted Martinez (and other Cuban prospects) as of late. Wolfson hears that as many as 17 teams watched Martinez work out late last week.
  • Sanchez hears that interest in Martinez and in Bahamian shortstop Lucius Fox is picking up (Twitter links). Scouts love Fox’s tools, and the fact that he is already 18 years of age is actually a bonus in this instance, as he comes with more experience than most July 2-eligible prospects. Fox, unlike Martinez, isn’t eligible to sign prior to July 2.
  • Jung Ho Kang‘s early success with the Pirates will help pave the way for hitters from the Korea Baseball Organization to make the jump to Major League Baseball, opines C.J. Nitkowski of FOX Sports (video link). Manager Clint Hurdle recently revealed to Nitkowski that in Spring Training, he had some concerns about whether or not Kang would be able to handle the increased fastball velocity he’d encounter in Major League Baseball. As Nitkowski points out, that hasn’t been an issue for the powerful infielder to this point; Kang has seen 101 fastballs registering at 93 mph or faster, and he’s whiffed on just five of them in addition to going 9-for-18 on those that he’s put into play. Recent reports have indicated that Kang’s former Nexen Heroes teammate, Byung-ho Park, is hoping to jump to MLB himself next season.

NL West Notes: Tulo, Ishikawa, Dodgers, Ryu

The Troy Tulowitzki trade speculation has been plentiful over the past week, but Jon Morosi of FOX Sports asked Rockies owner Dick Monfort about the rumors at this week’s owners meetings (Twitter link) and was told, “We’re not trying to trade him. There’s no story there.” Morosi’s colleague, Ken Rosenthal, couldn’t even get that level of an answer out of Monfort last week, as Rosenthal recently wrote that Monfort quickly hung up the phone when asked about the Tulowitzki trade scenario. Many, including Rosenthal, have written that the belief is that Monfort himself, not GM Jeff Bridich or Tulowitzki, is in control of whether or not the shortstop is traded. Monfort has a history of reluctance in trading veterans; a report from hall of fame journalist Peter Gammons last summer indicated that Monfort vetoed a trade of Jorge De La Rosa for highly touted prospect Eduardo Rodriguez. De La Rosa was signed to a two-year extension shortly thereafter.

Here’s more from the NL West…

  • Travis Ishikawa is nearing a return from the disabled list, and his impending activation creates a potentially uncomfortable roster crunch for the Giants, writes Chris Haft of MLB.com. The Giants will have to either trim a member of their bullpen or cut a bench player to activate Ishikawa, neither of which is a desirable outcome for the club, Haft continues. Ishikawa is aware that with Brandon Belt and Nori Aoki playing well, at-bats with the big league club could be few and far between, but he’s ok with a reduced role. “If I’m not going to be an everyday guy, I want to be the best pinch-hitter that I can be,” Ishikawa said. To this point, the veteran first baseman/outfielder said he hasn’t received any indication from the club as to what their decision will be.
  • Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles speculates that the Dodgers‘ glut of infielders could be leveraged in trades to address the starting rotation. Hyun-jin Ryu and Brandon McCarthy are already out for the season, and as Saxon notes, Friedman told reporters (including MLBTR’s Zach Links) that an excess of good players can benefit a team by making trades easier to facilitate. Saxon quotes Friedman as saying, “…if we can add an arm, that would certainly be helpful.” I’d add that the Dodgers’ rotation is currently also banking on the injury-prone Brett Anderson to remain healthy, further increasing the possibility that the Dodgers may need to look outside the organization for rotation help. Of course, as Saxon notes, Brandon Beachy is on the mend from Tommy John surgery and is expected to be ready to return by June. Given that he’s returning from his second TJ operation, however, it would likely behoove the Dodgers to have depth beyond Beachy, Carlos Frias and Mike Bolsinger.
  • Losing Ryu will make the Dodgers‘ efforts to acquire a starter significantly more difficult, opines Steve Dilbeck of the L.A. Times. Rival clubs already knew that they had leverage over the Dodgers, given the team’s rotation holes, and with Ryu slated to go under the knife, the Dodgers’ need has only been magnified. The Dodgers need to add a reliable mid-rotation arm, but teams can afford to demand a more premium asking price, Dilbeck feels, knowing that the Dodgers aren’t likely to be able to get by for the rest of the season with Anderson, Beachy, Bolsinger and Frias supporting Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke.
  • For those who didn’t see earlier, the Rockies made the somewhat surprising decision to option Drew Stubbs, who has five-plus years of Major League service, to Triple-A. MLBTR’s Jeff Todd took a look at the situation in more detail.

Hyun-jin Ryu To Undergo Shoulder Surgery

MAY 20: The Dodgers announced that Ryu will have an arthroscopic procedure tomorrow, to be performed by team surgeon Dr. Neal ElAttrache.

MAY 19, 11:45pm: Ryu has elected to undergo shoulder surgery, reports Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles. According to Saxon’s source, an MRI on Ryu’s shoulder didn’t reveal a tear or any obvious structural damage, so the surgery would be exploratory in nature — an attempt to determine the cause of the inflammation that has prevented him from pitching in 2015. Nevertheless, an operation of that nature would cast significant doubt on Ryu’s ability to pitch for the Dodgers this season and, as Saxon notes, could send the team into a full-scale search for starting pitching upgrades.

11:40am: A “shoulder cleanup” is likely, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets.

10:58am: Dodgers lefty Hyun-jin Ryu is weighing the possibility of a surgical option to solve his shoulder problems, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports on Twitter. While Passan notes that a report out of Ryu’s native Korea suggests surgery will take place this week, his sources say that a decision has yet to be made.

This development is the latest sign of trouble for Ryu, who has struggled to regain velocity as his shoulder has continued to prove problematic. Ryu has yet to pitch this year, and recent reports indicated that he did not even have a timetable to re-start a throwing program.

The 28-year-old experienced arm issues last year, but has been excellent when healthy. All said, he’s provided Los Angeles with 344 innings of 3.17 ERA pitching, with 7.7 K/9 against 2.0 BB/9, over the last two seasons.

The Dodgers signed Ryu for six years and $36MM out of Korea in the winter of 2012 after paying a $25.7MM posting fee. That contract has long looked like a steal, but will cost the team more in the coming seasons, as Ryu is owed $7MM annually from 2016-18. (Of course, that’s a relatively meager sum for the large-budget Dodgers.)

Of more immediate concern to Los Angeles, the prospect of an even longer absence from Ryu brings the team’s starting depth into further question. Major free agent addition Brandon McCarthy is already going to miss this year and much of next after undergoing Tommy John surgery, and the team is currently trotting out Mike Bolsinger and Carlos Frias as its fourth and fifth starters. While those pitchers have (somewhat surprisingly) provided excellent results to date, it would not be surprising to see the Dodgers play a significant role on the summer trade market.



Hector Olivera Discusses Signing With Dodgers

Hector Olivera is Los Angeles’ newest star, but he easily could have wound up elsewhere given the widespread interest clubs had in him.  On a conference call Tuesday evening, I asked the infielder how many teams he had serious conversations with and whether he was close to signing with any of them.

There were five teams that had interest in me [including] San Francisco, Atlanta, and Miami,” Olivera said through a translator.  “But, in the end, I decided to sign with the Dodgers because I know that this is a great organization.”

Hours ago, team president Andrew Friedman told reporters that he is open to different positions for Olivera, who is said to have the ability to play second base, third base, and the corner outfield.  It appears that Olivera and Friedman are in agreement.

My whole career I played second base, but I don’t think I’m in the position to decide where I should play or to say what my preference is,” said the Cuban star when asked what position he is most comfortable playing. “Wherever they put me, I’m going to give my best…Wherever they put me, they’ll see results.”

Friedman was unwilling to put a timetable on Olivera’s Major League debut, but the player doesn’t think it’ll take all that long.  The second baseman told reporters that he’ll probably need “three or four weeks” to get ready before making the leap to L.A.  As he prepares to make the biggest transition of his professional career, he’ll do so unencumbered by any elbow trouble.  For weeks, it has been reported that Olivera was dealing with an issue in his arm, rumored to be a a slight UCL tear in his right elbow.

I don’t know where that rumor came from.  I know that there was a little bit of inflammation in my forearm…It was just fatigue in the muscle, but it wasn’t a serious problem and I don’t know where that rumor started.”


Dodgers President Friedman On Olivera Signing

After months of anticipation, the Dodgers have finalized their agreement with Cuban infielder Hector Olivera.  The two sides first shook hands on a six-year, $62.5MM deal back in March but a few roadblocks – including visa issues – dragged the process out a bit.  Today, the i’s are dotted, the t’s are crossed, and Olivera is at long last an official member of the Dodgers.

There are still lingering questions, however, not the least of which is where Olivera will fit into the Dodgers’ big league picture with plenty of talent already at second base, third base, and the corner outfield positions.  Minutes ago on a conference call, I asked Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman if Olivera’s arrival could open things up for a potential trade down the line.

I think having as many good players as possible helps you not only in constructing your own roster, but it allows you the opportunity to talk with more teams.  If we’re ever complaining about having too much depth then that’s a good problem to have, but we’re certainly not there yet.  Adding someone that has a chance to impact the game is obviously always a good thing,” Friedman said.

Friedman clearly wasn’t looking to discuss specific trade possibilities, but one has to imagine that the Dodgers could parlay their offensive depth into pitching, particularly in the wake of rumblings that pitcher Hyun-jin Ryu could require season-ending shoulder surgery.  There’s no word yet on whether Ryu will have to go under the knife, but Friedman says that he has been bracing for the worst and planning as though he will not have Ryu the rest of the way.  The Dodgers expect to know more about the left-hander’s condition on Wednesday, and that information will shape their approach this summer.

The immediate plan for Olivera will be to work him up through the minor league system.  The infielder’s first stop will be in Arizona (for “a few days”), followed by a bump up to Oklahoma City.  Given Olivera’s age and the size of his deal, there has been a lot of talk about him making an immediate impact at the major league level.  Still, Friedman wasn’t willing to put a timetable on when the Cuban standout might join the varsity squad.

When Olivera is ready for primetime, Friedman says that the organization is open to different positions for him.  While Olivera worked out at the Dodgers academy, Friedman received reports indicating that he was taking well to both second and third base.  Olivera is also said to have the range to play in the outfield, so that could theoretically be an option for L.A.

Of course, as MLBTR’s Jeff Todd outlined a bit earlier this afternoon, that versatility doesn’t exactly make his path to the Majors any clearer.  The Dodgers have Juan Uribe, Alex Guerrero, Enrique Hernandez and Justin Turner all, like Olivera, capable of playing multiple infield positions.  And, starting second baseman Howie Kendrick doesn’t figure to be displaced anytime soon (he’s even been mentioned as an extension candidate).  In the outfield, Andre Ethier has looked rejuvenated this season, with Joc Pederson, Yasiel Puig, Scott Van Slyke, Carl Crawford, Guerrero and Hernandez all serving as options as well (though Puig and Crawford are currently injured).  Versatile as he may be, Olivera joins a crowded mix of players in an intriguing logjam that figures to be addressed at some point down the line.

In addition to Olivera, the Dodgers also completed the signing of Cuban righty Pablo Millan Fernandez to a minor league contract.  Fernandez, who, according to Friedman, has an Orlando Hernandez-type windup that many Cuban pitchers are fond of, will be stretched out to be a starter.


Dodgers Announce Hector Olivera, Pablo Fernandez Signings

4:30pm: The Dodgers have officially announced the signing of Olivera to a six-year contract. Los Angeles also officially announced the signing of Cuban righty Pablo Millan Fernandez to a minor league contract — a previously reported signing that was said at the time to include an $8MM bonus.

12:16pm: Olivera is scheduled to work out in Arizona for a few weeks before beginning a minor league assignment, Rosenthal tweets.

11:57am: Much-hyped Cuban infielder Hector Olivera has passed his physical with the Dodgers, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports on Twitter. Presumably, an official announcement of his signing will be forthcoming in relatively short order.

Olivera, 29, reportedly inked a six-year, $62.5MM deal with Los Angeles back in March after something of a roller coaster of a signing process. The deal is said to include a clause that would grant the club an option for a seventh season in the event that Olivera requires Tommy John surgery on his right elbow.

The signing has, if anything, grown all the more interesting given developments in the interim. The Dodgers already looked to be loaded at second, third, and the corner outfield — Olivera’s potential positions — before reaching the deal. While Juan Uribe has struggled offensively, players like Justin Turner, Alex Guerrero, Enrique Hernandez, and Scott Van Slyke have been remarkably productive off the bench. (And that’s all before considering starters Howie Kendrick and Andre Ethier, who have been excellent, and a variety of other options in the infield and outfield.)

Olivera, obviously, was signed more as a long-term piece than to fill an immediate need. But given his age and salary commitment, it would be surprising if he does not receive a look at the big league level this year. That being said, the club’s array of options leave it in no rush to speed his progress, and Olivera will presumably be afforded plenty of time to adapt to the professional game and prepare for big league action.

With the deal set to hit the books, though, we can begin to look forward to a time when the roster crunch becomes all the more pressing. The Dodgers could well be on the market for pitching, and one wonders whether one or more of the team’s many interesting position players could be parlayed into arms.


Dodgers Designate Eury De La Rosa For Assignment

The Dodgers announced today that they have designated left-handed reliever Eury De La Rosa for assignment. De La Rosa’s 40-man roster spot will go to Cuban infielder Hector Olivera, whose six-year contract has now been officially announced by the Dodgers.

De La Rosa, 25, was claimed off waivers from the Athletics about three weeks ago. After opening the season with six scoreless innings for Oakland’s Triple-A affiliate, however, De La Rosa struggled with the move to the Dodgers organization, surrendering five runs on 12 hits and four walks in 7 1/3 frames. De La Rosa had solid control as he worked his way up the minor league ladder, but he’s struggled with it since reaching Triple-A. In 103 1/3 innings at the top minor league level, he’s averaged five walks per nine innings, against 8.4 K/9.


Latest On Troy Tulowitzki

Rockies GM Jeff Bridich is in a tight spot regarding Troy Tulowitzki, opines Bill Shaikin of the LA Times. While Tulowitzki did not specifically ask to be traded, he did not categorically state that he wants to remain in Colorado. For his part, Bridich did not deny the possibility of a trade.

There is no doubt that Tulowitzki is highly coveted around the league despite a minimum of six years and $113MM remaining on his contract. The star shortstop is off to a strange start to the season for Colorado. One has to wonder if the rumors are getting to him. He’s hitting .284/.292/.448 through 120 plate appearances. His plate discipline has disappeared. He’s swinging at more pitches outside of the strike zone, whiffing more frequently, and he’s drawn just two walks against 29 strikeouts. His power output is also well below his career norms.

Last week, Dave Cameron of FanGraphs identified nine possible destinations for Tulowitzki. He referred to the Mets, Red Sox, and Yankees as the most likely bidders. The long standing connection with the Mets is challenged by their complex financial situation. Cameron suggests the Red Sox could include Xander Bogaerts as part of a trade. If that was the case, I suspect they might be in the best position to secure a deal. The Yankees certainly have the necessary money, but they’ve worked hard to reduce the amount of payroll committed to aging players.

Shaikin adds that the Dodgers would love to slot Tulo at shortstop with top prospect Corey Seager sliding over to third base. While they have the financial wherewithal and enough talented prospects to participate in a trade, it’s unlikely the Rockies would deal directly with their rich rivals. Instead, Los Angeles could attempt to play financial facilitator as part of a three-team trade. The Dodgers attempted to mediate the Josh Hamilton trade by including money for a prospect.

Cameron also explored a hypothetical trade package for the nine teams he identified. Tulowitzki’s contract probably has $50MM to $60MM of surplus value per Cameron, so he should elicit a sizable return. However, the $63MM signing of Yoan Moncada – not a top 10 prospect per all major outlets – indicates that the upper crust of prospects are probably off the table. In other words, no Mookie Betts, no Carlos Correa, and no Seager (among others).

Tulowitzki could return multiple second tier prospects. Cameron names Luis Severino and Aaron Judge as a possible package from the Yankees. The Mets could bundle Noah Syndergaard, Amed Rosario, and Steven Matz. Of course, these are just some hypothetical ideas. The Rockies could try to eat some money in exchange for a true elite prospect, or they might prefer a deep five or six player package.

 


Injury Notes: Pence, Tanaka, Blue Jays, Fister, Ryu

Giants outfielder Hunter Pence is returning to active duty tomorrow, Andrew Baggarly of the Mercury News reports on Twitter. Pence has yet to see MLB action this year since suffering a fractured forearm in the spring. The 32-year-old figures to provide a nice boost to the club, which has produced middling results thus far.

Here are some more injury notes from around the game:

  • Another important player who received promising injury news is Yankees ace Masahiro Tanaka. As Bryan Hoch of MLB.com tweets, Tanaka threw 35 pitches in a BP session today and seems to be nearing the start of a rehab stint. Tanaka’s continued progress is obviously welcome, particularly given that swingman Chase Whitley may be headed for season-ending surgery.
  • The Blue Jays also have some notable situations to watch, with Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca providing several updates. Outfielder Michael Saunders will miss four to six weeks to rest his knee. And catcher Dioner Navarro still does not have a timetable for a rehab assignment as he rests his hamstring. More positively, shortstop Jose Reyes is nearing his own build-up through the minors. While Saunders and Reyes are important for the team, the Navarro news is most notable from a transactional perspective. Though he has not done much offensively this year, Navarro could be a useful trade piece for a Toronto club that has other needs — if he can reestablish his health and show more promise at the plate.
  • The Nationals made the surprising announcement today that righty Doug Fister is heading to the DL with right forearm tightness (via Dan Kolko of MASNsports.com, on Twitter). Young starter A.J. Cole, one of the team’s top prospects, will return to take his spot on the active roster. While hidden somewhat due to the attention given to Stephen Strasburg, there is cause for concern with Fister, whose velocity (86.1 mph average two-seam fastball), K:BB ratio (4.1 K/9 vs. 2.3 BB/9), and groundball rate (40.9%) have suffered in comparison to his usual numbers. Of course, the Nationals are somewhat uniquely suited to weather any extended absence, should that prove necessary. But for the 31-year-old free agent-to-be, the first two months of the season have left him with plenty to prove the rest of the way.
  • Hyun-jin Ryu of the Dodgers is still not even scheduled to resume throwing, J.P. Hoornstra of the Los Angeles News Group reports on Twitter. The health of the 28-year-old lefty remains a key sub-plot in the development of the summer trade market: L.A. already profiles as a strong buyer for starting pitching, and its needs would be enhanced greatly if Ryu isn’t able to develop an upward trajectory.

Heyman’s Latest: Tulo, Soriano, Correa, Garza, Segura, Mets

The latest installment of Jon Heyman’s weekly Inside Baseball column is up over at CBS Sports, and Heyman begins by addressing the Troy Tulowitzki trade talk that has once again surfaced. Heyman, like many others, feels the time has arrived for the marriage between Tulo and the Rockies to come to an end, but neither Tulowitzki or owner Dick Monfort wants to appear to be the “bad guy” in the situation. Heyman hears that Tulowitzki would prefer to play for the YankeesGiants, Dodgers or Angels if he is traded, though one person who knows the shortstop well told Heyman that he may ok with the Mets, Cardinals and Red Sox as well. Tulowitzki’s preferred destination is largely a moot point though, as his contract doesn’t have a no-trade clause. Heyman notes that in a year’s time, Tulowitzki will receive 10-and-5 rights, allowing him to veto any deal. That reality only furthers Colorado’s need to move Tulowitzki, Heyman opines. Heyman also lists 11 clubs that he could see making some degree of sense for the face of the Rockies’ franchise.

Some more highlights from a lengthy but always-informative column…

  • The Cubs “may consider” Rafael Soriano at some point as a means of lengthening their bullpen, according to Heyman. I’d note that while the team has looked a bit thin beyond Hector Rondon and Pedro Strop, the Cubs just got Justin Grimm back from the disabled list and likely won’t be without Neil Ramirez for too much longer.
  • Astros top prospect — and arguably the top prospect in all of MLB — Carlos Correa could be up to the Majors within three weeks, one Houston source estimated to Heyman. Also of note on the Astros front, he writes that a pursuit of Cole Hamels would appear to be a long shot, but Scott Kazmir (Houston native) and Clay Buchholz are names to keep an eye on for Houston, should either become available.
  • Kyle Lohse seems like a natural candidate to be traded this offseason, but the Brewers are particularly interested in shedding Matt Garza‘s contract. The right-hander is guaranteed $12.5MM in 2015 and will earn the same rate in each of the following two seasons. Neither pitcher, however, has been particularly impressive for Milwaukee.
  • Jean Segura is one of the players that the Brewers have the least interest in trading, but Heyman hears that the Padres would be interested, should Brewers GM Doug Melvin entertain offers. San Diego likes Alexi Amarista but prefers to use him in a utility role rather than as a starter.
  • Rival teams seriously doubt that the Mets would ever consider parting ways with Noah Syndergaard, but there’s “a little hope” that the team could be persuaded to part with highly touted left-hander Steven Matz in a trade. Heyman adds that the Mets are going to remain patient with Wilmer Flores as their shortstop for the time being.
  • It’s been reported that Yunel Escobar wanted no part of playing with Oakland, and Heyman hears that the reasoning was as simple as the fact that Escobar is very particular when it comes to geographical preferences and wanted to remain on the East coast. A trade to the Nationals accomplished that goal.
  • The clause in Alex Guerrero‘s contract that allows him to opt out of his deal and elect free agency at season’s end, if he is traded, hinders his trade value. That shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, but given the presence of Guerrero and the versatile Justin Turner, Juan Uribe could end up as a summer trade candidate for the Dodgers.
  • In some agency news, Heyman reports that Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorius will now be represented by Casey Close of Excel Sports Management — the agent for Gregorius’ predecessor, Derek Jeter. Gregorius had previously been repped by the Wasserman Media Group.