Los Angeles Dodgers Rumors

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

Notes On Dodgers’ Deal With Pablo Millan Fernandez

Last night, Baseball America’s Ben Badler reported that the Dodgers had agreed to terms with 25-year-old Cuban pitcher Pablo Millan Fernandez on a minor-league contract with an $8MM bonus. The Dodgers will convert Fernandez from relief to starting. The deal came as somewhat of a surprise, given that Fernandez wasn’t a big international name and his stuff reportedly isn’t overwhelming. As Badler notes (via Twitter), “If he can get $8MM, Vladimir Gutierrez must be doing back flips right now.” Here are more notes on Fernandez.

  • Dodgers infielder Alex Guerrero played with Fernandez in Cuba and remembers him well, J.P. Hoornstra of the Los Angeles News Group writes. “Good control, command, great kid, good attitude, that’s all I can say,” says Guerrero. “Slider, fastball — the best thing is that he locates them good.”
  • Fernandez defected from Cuba last October, Hoornstra writes. The Dodgers only recently became interested. The team recently underwent changes in their front office, of course, and Badler noted in his original report that Fernandez’s velocity increased recently, so those might be two potential reasons. There’s also the possibility, as Hoornstra notes, that the Dodgers previously hadn’t viewed Fernandez as a potential defector.
  • Not all teams were as impressed with Fernandez as the Dodgers apparently were. Kiley McDaniel of FanGraphs tweets that one international scouting director says his team had little interest in Fernandez, believing his stuff was unimpressive and that his upside was that of a back-end starter.
  • Another scout told McDaniel (again via Twitter) that Fernandez had a good chance of becoming an Odrisamer Despaigne-type pitcher. That view perhaps isn’t entirely inconsistent with that of the international scouting director’s, but it’s framed much more positively — perhaps Fernandez won’t be an ace, but if he can be a reliable contributor in the Dodgers’ rotation, that would, surely, be a good use of $8MM.

Latest On Hector Olivera

Here’s the latest on Cuban free agent infielder Hector Olivera, much of it from CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman:

  • Olivera’s new agent, Greg Genske, says he thinks he and his client will reach a deal with his new team “soon.” (Last Wednesday, Genske told Heyman that Olivera would likely sign by the end of what is now last week, so negotiations have already gone on longer than anticipated.)
  • It’s possible there could be a bidding war between the Dodgers and Padres. Those two teams appear to be leading the bidding, although other teams (including the Braves, Athletics and Giants) remain interested. (The Marlins are reportedly out of the bidding.)
  • Olivera is reportedly throwing well, perhaps easing concerns over a report that he could have UCL damage.
  • Olivera will likely agree to a deal by Wednesday, the New York Post’s Joel Sherman tweets.

NL West Notes: Bumgarner, Dodgers, Navarro

The Dodgers weren’t the only NL West team looking at Cuban right-hander Pablo Millan Fernandez, as MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez reports that the Giants and Padres also had interest.  The Rangers and Red Sox, two of the more aggressive teams on the international signing front in recent years, were also interested in Fernandez, who agreed to an $8MM bonus with Los Angeles yesterday.  Here’s some more from around the NL West…

  • Madison Bumgarner has no plans to approach the Giants about re-negotiating his contract and said he has no regrets over signing his five-year extension, the World Series MVP tells Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News.  In April 2012, Bumgarner signed a deal that, at the time, paid him the highest average annual value of any contract given to a player between 1-2 years of service time.  The five-year, $35MM deal includes a $12MM vesting option for 2018 and a $12MM team option for 2019.  While those options could increase to $16MM based on Cy Young finishes, Bumgarner’s contract has obviously been a major bargain for the Giants.
  • The Brewers were one of a few teams interested in trading for Dodgers infielder Alex Guerrero, though nobody was interested in paying Guerrero the $14MM he’s owed through 2017, ESPN Los Angeles’ Mark Saxon reports.  Some teams were staying away from a trade and instead hoping L.A. would just release the Cuban prospect in the wake of his tough 2014 campaign.  A good Spring Training, however, has earned Guerrero a spot on the Opening Day roster and kept him in the Dodgers’ future plans.
  • The Dodgers won’t be considering extensions for Jimmy Rollins, Howie Kendrick or Juan Uribe until at least partway through the season, Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times writes.  All three veteran infielders are entering their walk years, but L.A. can afford to wait given the presence of Guerrero and Corey Seager, not to mention the possible signing of Hector Olivera.  For his part, Uribe says he wants to stay with the Dodgers beyond 2015.
  • Diamondbacks GM Dave Stewart told reporters (including MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert) and The Arizona Republic’s Nick Piecoro) that Dioner Navarro‘s $5MM salary is too much to fit into his team’s payroll.  The Snakes have been linked to the Blue Jays catcher for much of the offseason and they’re reportedly still scouting him, though Stewart said there isn’t any substance to those rumors.


Dodgers Looking For Additional Pitching Depth

The Dodgers would consider acquiring a pitcher in his absence of starting pitcher Hyun-jin Ryu, but likely only a depth move, Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reports. On Sunday, the team sent Ryu to Los Angeles to see a doctor after he reported discomfort in the shoulder that ailed him at times last season. He will begin the season on the disabled list. Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman says the team could potentially have interest in “more depth starting pitching, but that is no different than we have tried to get all offseason.”

They don’t sound optimistic in finding even that type of pitcher, ESPN LA’s Mark Saxon writes. “This is just a hard time to go out there and acquire starting pitching depth,” says GM Farhan Zaidi. “We’re fielding calls from teams that are asking us about our starting pitching depth, so there aren’t a lot of starting pitching sellers right now.”

Joe Wieland is likely to replace Ryu in the Dodgers’ rotation. Another potential starting pitching candidate, minor-league signee Erik Bedard, is also now injured, having suffered a lat strain.


Dodgers To Sign Cuban Pitcher Pablo Millan Fernandez

The Dodgers have agreed to terms with Cuban righty Pablo Millan Fernandez on a minor-league deal with an $8MM bonus, Baseball America’s Ben Badler reports. Fernandez still needs to take a physical for the deal to be complete. Fernandez had established residence in Haiti and was training with Julian Camillo, who scouted Hanley Ramirez when Ramirez was an amateur.

Badler writes that Fernandez previously had thrown in the 86-88 MPH range, but recently increased his velocity and now throws in the low 90s, a somewhat surprising development for a 25-year-old. He also throws a curve, slider and changeup. Badler notes, however, that Fernandez had not generated much excitement among scouts. Fernandez mostly pitched as a reliever in Cuba, posting a 3.59 ERA with 5.3 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 in parts of seven seasons there. The Dodgers will develop him as a starter, likely having him begin his U.S. career in the high minors.

Due to Fernandez’s age and experience in Serie Nacional, the signing will not count against the Dodgers’ international bonus pool. They will, however, have to pay 40% luxury tax on his bonus, which does not include any salary he might make in the big leagues.

The deal is the latest in a string of signings of Cuban players for the Dodgers, whose previous management signed outfielder Yasiel Puig to a $42MM deal that now looks like a bargain. They also infielders Alex Guerrero and Erisbel Arruebarrena to deals that have not worked out so far (although it might be somewhat premature to dismiss the Guerrero signing). More recently, the Dodgers have been connected with infielder Hector Olivera, who has yet to sign.


West Notes: Trumbo, Chacin, Angels, Ethier, Quentin

The dark side of Venezuelan baseball players reaping the riches of their profession is their family members, who decline to move permanently to the United States and remain in Venezuela, become targets of kidnappers. Evan Grant of The Dallas Morning News chronicles the kidnapping attempt made on the brother of Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus last year. Fortunately, Andrus provided his brother’s family with armed bodyguards and they thwarted the attempt after being fired upon and struck in their bulletproof vests. “This happens with everybody who has family there,” said Andrus. “It’s easy for them to kidnap people and ask for money. And everybody knows how much money the players make. They can Google it. It’s just not safe. You have to take steps. It was pretty shocking, for sure.

In other news and notes from baseball’s West divisions:

  • The Diamondbacks will not alleviate their outfield surplus by trading Mark Trumbo, reports CBSSports.com’s Jon Heyman. “We are not moving Trumbo,” GM Dave Stewart said. “Trumbo is a proven bat. Tough to move him for an unknown.” Stewart went even further with the New York Post’s Joel Sherman (Twitter link) telling the scribe he will not trade any of his outfielders because he values the depth.
  • The Rockies are to be commended for releasing Jhoulys Chacin because a team must change direction if a player isn’t performing and the right-hander wasn’t, tweets Patrick Saunders of The Denver Post.
  • The Angels enter 2015 with the most financial flexibility they have had in four years, but will wait until mid-season to decide if or how to spend that payroll, according to MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez. The Angels’ most likely area of need is second base with Gonzalez naming the PhilliesChase Utley, the RedsBrandon Phillips, the DiamondbacksAaron Hill, and the MetsDaniel Murphy as possible targets.
  • The Dodgers‘ pitching depth is sorely being tested in the wake of the team shutting down Hyun-jin Ryu with shoulder inflammation, notes MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick.
  • Andre Ethier tells Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com he isn’t monitoring trade rumors online or with his agent and he isn’t counting the number of scouts in attendance at the Dodgers‘ Spring Training games. Ethier has said he is open to a trade and the club is reportedly willing to eat as much as half of the $56MM remaining on the outfielder’s contract to facilitate a swap, but have yet to find any takers.
  • Carlos Quentin asked to see some reps at first base in an attempt to earn more at-bats with the Padres, which could also make him more attractive to other teams, writes MLB.com’s Corey Brock.
  • Peter Gammons of DailyGammons.com opines some have been cynical of San Diego’s offseason overhaul, but a healthy and productive Matt Kemp can become the poster person of this new age for the Padres.

West Notes: Ryu, Tomas, Butler, Rangers

The Dodgers have announced that they’ve shut down Hyun-jin Ryu with shoulder inflammation. He will be shut down for the next three days while the Dodgers determine the right course of action. Ryu had experienced shoulder tightness in his last start, during which his velocity was down. Ryu had similar shoulder issues last September, although he returned to pitch in the playoffs. There’s no indication yet that his current issues are serious, and Ryu (via a tweet from J.P. Hoornstra of the Los Angeles News Group) believes the injury should not keep him from being ready for the start of the season. The Dodgers could consider having him begin the season on the disabled list, however, as the Los Angeles Times’ Bill Shaikin tweets. The Dodgers don’t require a fifth starter until April 14. Here’s more from the West divisions.

  • Yasmany Tomas chose the Diamondbacks over other teams in part because he liked their front office, Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic writes. The Giants were the runners-up in the bidding for Tomas, writes Piecoro. “At the end of the day, he said, ‘I really like those people,'” says agent Jay Alou of Diamondbacks execs Tony La Russa, Dave Stewart, De Jon Watson and Junior Noboa. “These are baseball people. They get it. I think Yasmany appreciates that.” After committing $68.5MM for Tomas, the Diamondbacks now appear to be quietly considering having Tomas start the season in the minors, although they offer guarded praise for his abilities. “I really believe that a number of us in the organization believe that he could hit,” says La Russa. “If we were short and he had to play, at the end of the year he would survive.”
  • The Athletics‘ seemingly incongruous addition of Billy Butler in the offseason actually makes sense, Tony Blengino of FanGraphs writes. While Butler’s 2014 season wasn’t a good one, his underlying numbers suggest a player whose ability is closer to his .289/.374/.412 2013 season. Blengino suggests Butler has a decent chance of being as good as or better than Nelson Cruz next year, although the two players’ offensive profiles are quite different.
  • The Rangers‘ prospects give the team a bright future, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News writes. The team still has Jorge Alfaro, Alex “Chi Chi” Gonzalez, Keone Kela and to power-hitting prospect Joey Gallo in big-league camp. “I think they are still getting something out of being here,” says GM Jon Daniels. “Some of these guys are not very far away at all.” Relief prospect Kela has wowed scouts with his stuff, Grant says — Kela can throw 100 MPH and now also has a quality breaking ball.

Quick Hits: Vlad, Olivera, Hudson, Soria

Matthew Marrota of Baseball Essential conducted an interesting interview with big league great Vladimir Guerrero and his prospect son, Vlad Jr. If you don’t believe Marrota’s description of the younger Guerrero as being the spitting image of his father in virtually all respects, the video included in the post ought to convince you. The one difference, according to Vlad Sr.? “He has more power, a lot,” says Guerrero. “I was very thin. Other than that we are the same player. We both played like men since we were very young.”

  • Ben Badler of Baseball America tweets that he continues to hear positive reviews on infielder Hector Olivera from scouts. The latest word, per Badler, is that the Dodgers and Padres are the most likely teams to add the veteran Cuban free agent.
  • Diamondbacks righty Daniel Hudson says his arm feels good after throwing two clean frames today, as MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert reports. Hudson remains on track to contribute at the big league level this year after coming back from a second Tommy John surgery, though it remains to be seen whether he’ll work from the rotation or the pen.
  • The Tigers have not made any attempt to work out a longer-term arrangement with reliever Joakim Soria, Tony Paul of the Detroit Free Press tweets. As he notes, that is not really surprising: Soria struggled upon being dealt to Detroit at the deadline last year, and Paul says there is “some skepticism” within the organization as to how he’ll perform this year. Assuming that nothing changes between now and the fall, the 30-year-old righty will hit the open market.

NL Notes: Yelich, Braves, Guerrero, Dodgers Pen

MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro discusses the path that led the Marlins to link up with young outfielder Christian Yelich on a still-unofficial extension. After exploratory talks last year, the team waited to see how other spending scenarios would shake out — including, notably, James Shields — before revisiting discussions with several younger players. Negotiations with Yelich gained traction when the team made clear it would beat Anthony Rizzo‘s seven-year, $41MM deal, says Frisaro, and proceeded quickly from that point. Frisaro will discuss that and other Marlins matters as a guest on tomorrow’s MLBTR Podcast.

Here’s more from the National League:

  • The Braves are in a better situation than many realize, MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince argues. Internally, Atlanta thinks it could have a winning record and may even stay in the Wild Card picture. And in the grander scheme, the organization has improved its financial flexibility and added some interesting, upper-level arms. “What we didn’t want to have happen,” said assistant GM John Coppolella, “is finish this year .500, and then we lose [Jason] Heyward and [Justin] Upton and get back Draft picks 35 and 36 and we’re like, ‘What the heck just happened?’ Then we’d be in deep trouble for the next five or six years.” President of baseball operations John Hart explained things this way: “We’ve tried to walk down the parallel line to allow ourselves a chance to be competitive.”
  • Dodgers skipper Don Mattingly praised the defensive improvements shown by infielder Alex Guerrero, as MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick reports. Los Angeles has moved him all over the diamond in an effort to expand his versatility and see where he fits most comfortably. The club will either need to put Guerrero on the big league roster or take a big hit on his four-year, $28MM deal to move him.
  • After an offseason full of organizational change, the Dodgers bullpen still remains unsettled, Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com writes. At the moment, the only sure things for the Opening Day roster, per Saxon, are J.P. Howell, Chris Hatcher, and Joel Peralta, with Kenley Jansen and possibly Brandon League out with injuries. Juan Nicasio and Dustin McGowan also seem good bets, though veteran non-roster invitees Mike Adams and Sergio Santos are battling. That latter duo could end up fighting for one spot, with the loser heading to the minors to start the year.

Hector Olivera Likely To Sign By End Of Week

Cuban infielder Hector Olivera is “likely” to sign by the end of this week, agent Greg Genske tells Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports. Olivera is still looking for a team to promise him a sixth year, the report indicates.

The Braves have reportedly put in an offer of four years and $40MM that is said to be “behind the pack,” per Heyman’s source. Multiple other clubs have reportedly shown a willingness to guarantee five years, possibly over $50MM, though Heyman says that the precise value (and source) of the other bids are not known.

Among the other clubs that have shown interest, of course, are the Dodgers, Padres, and Giants. Heyman says it is unclear at this point how involved the Marlins and Athletics are, though recent reports indicated that Miami still has interest at seven years and $50MM, perhaps representing a lower AAV than Olivera prefers.