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As Baseball America’s Josh Leventhal writes, yesterday marked a two-week period where Major League clubs are free to negotiate with available minor league organizations. Major League clubs sign player development contracts with minor league organizations much like players will sign contracts with teams. As such, Leventhal notes that the “affiliation shuffle” is akin to free agency for minor league teams. Leventhal’s article provides more insight behind many of the moves and offers quite a bit of detail for those who are curious to read more about this process.
Over the next few weeks, we’ll see multiple teams sign deals with new affiliates, and MLBTR will keep track of them here for those that are interested …
- The Braves announced that they have moved their Class-A Advanced affiliate from Lynchburg, Va. to Zebulon, N.C. (formerly an Indians affiliate) after agreeing to a two-year PDC. They will inherit the Carolina Mudcats moniker.
- Daytona (formerly the Cubs’ affiliate) has announced that it has reached a PDC with the Reds.
- GM Jon Daniels says the Rangers will move their High-A affiliate from Myrtle Beach to High Desert, FOX Sports Southwest’s Anthony Andro tweets.
- The Cubs announced that they will be moving their High-A affiliate from Daytona to Myrtle Beach (previously occupied by the Rangers).
- The Indians announced that they will be moving their High-A affiliate from Carolina to Lynchburg (previously occupied by the Braves).
- The Twins announced that they will be moving their Double-A affiliate from New Britain to Chattanooga (previously occupied by the Dodgers) after agreeing to a four-year term.
- The Dodgers announced that they will be moving their Double-A affiliate from Chattanooga to Tulsa (previously occupied by the Rockies).
- New Britain (formerly the Twins’ affiliate) has announced that that it has reached a PDC with the Rockies.
- The Giants announced that they have reached a two-year PDC with Triple-A Sacramento (formerly occupied by the Athletics).
- The Brewers announced that they have reached a two-year PDC with Triple-A Colorado Spring (formerly occupied by the Rockies)
- Fresno (formerly the Giants’ affiliate) has announced that it has reached a PDC with the Astros.
- The Athletics have announced that they will be moving their Triple-A affiliate from Sacramento to Nashville (previously occupied by the Brewers).
- The Dodgers have announced that they will be moving their Triple-A affiliate from Albuquerque to Oklahoma City (previously occupied by the Astros).
- The Rockies announced that they will be moving their Triple-A affiliate from Colorado Springs to Albuquerque (previously occupied by the Dodgers).
- The Brewers have announced that their Triple-A affiliation with Nashville has been terminated by the Sounds.
The Angels probably won’t leave Anaheim, opines Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times. We found out yesterday that the Angels cut off talks on a new ballpark lease with the city of Anaheim. Politics play into the situation, so the tabled negotiations with Anaheim may not be revived until after the election. In the mean time, the club will explore sites in Tustin. A move would presumably be funded by owner Arte Moreno. As Shaiken notes when suggesting the club would remain in Anaheim, “you don’t become a billionaire by spending hundreds of millions of dollars if you don’t have to.”
- Also per Shaikin, the battle between Time Warner Cable and DirecTV over Dodger carriage fees could soon be moot. Currently, DirecTV subscribers do not have access to Dodgers games. While the two parties are at an irreconcilable impasse, they may be under new ownership by mid-winter. If federal regulators approve Comcast’s take over of TWC and AT&T’s acquisition of DirecTV, then it’s much more likely that the two parties could come to terms.
- The Astros have a narrow lead on the Diamondbacks and other major league clubs in the search for a new manager, writes Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle. GM Jeff Luhnow had this to say on their head start: “I’m not sure being first is a huge advantage, but certainly we’re moving as fast as we can.”
Here’s the latest from Ken Rosenthal, via a video on FOX Sports:
- The Rangers‘ strong finish might almost force them to hire interim manager Tim Bogar as the permanent replacement for Ron Washington, Rosenthal says. The Rangers have gone 13-7 since Bogar took over. Their late-season surge also means they won’t get the top overall draft pick next season.
- The Astros have talked to Pirates bench coach Jeff Banister about their managerial job, but Rosenthal says that most within the industry feel the job will go to former Diamondbacks manager A.J. Hinch or Red Sox bench coach Torey Lovullo.
- Many within the Brewers are frustrated with their team’s collapse, although Rosenthal notes that the feeling throughout baseball was that the Brewers overachieved throughout much of the early season anyway, and that GM Doug Melvin and manager Ron Roenicke should not be fired for the Brewers’ late-season troubles.
- The Rockies could make some sort of change in their front office, and the Dodgers could even make front office moves if the team struggles in the playoffs, Rosenthal reports. That would leave the Giants as the only NL West team not to make a significant front office change this offseason.
The Diamondbacks announced today that they have hired Dave Stewart as their new senior vice president and general manager, thereby filling the void that was created when Kevin Towers was removed from the role earlier this month. Additionally, De Jon Watson has been hired away from the Dodgers to serve as senior VP of baseball operations. Both men will report directly to chief baseball officer Tony La Russa, according to the press release.
Stewart, 57, is quite familiar with La Russa, as he was the ace of several of pitching staffs with the A’s that were managed by La Russa in the late 1980s. Stewart has plenty of experience around the game, however, as he’s served as a pitching coach for the Brewers, an assistant general manager with the Blue Jays and a player agent, representing (up until this point) well-known big leaguers such as Matt Kemp, Chad Billingsley and Chris Carter. Of course, Stewart will have to give that business up, and he’s already explained to John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle that he will transfer that business to former teammate Dave Henderson.
It’s been quite some time since Stewart was in a front office, but he was once considered a hot GM candidate and was thought to have a chance to take over the post in Toronto and succeed Gord Ash following the 2001 season. (J.P. Ricciardi was instead named the next Blue Jays GM.) Baseball America ranked Stewart sixth among a list of its top 10 general manager “prospects” back in 2000.
This will be Stewart’s first test as a general manager, a position which he told Shea is exciting to him: “As an agent, I’m not challenged every day,” said Stewart. “But this job is 24 hours every day, and I’m looking forward to that.” He will have his work cut out for him, as the D’Backs are wrapping up a season in which they will narrowly miss 100 losses and are on pace to finish with baseball’s worst record. Of course, that fate would also provide Stewart with the opportunity to have the first overall pick in what will be his first draft as a GM.
In Watson, the D’Backs have secured a high-profile front office acquisition. The 48-year-old Watson had been serving as Los Angeles’ vice president of player development and was in his seventh year with the organization. In that role, Watson was responsible for developing and evaluating each minor league player in the system as well as appointing minor league managers, coaches and instructors. He also served as an advisor to GM Ned Colletti on all 40-man roster decisions. Prior to his time with the Dodgers, Watson served as the Indians’ director of professional scouting and the Reds’ scouting director. Prior to those roles, he served as an area scout for the Marlins.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
7:44pm: Stewart and the Diamondbacks are closing in on a multi-year agreement to make Stewart the new GM in Arizona, Nightengale tweets. An official announcement could come on Friday now, rather than Thursday, as had previously been reported.
6:01pm: Ken Rosenthal and Jon Morosi of FOX Sports now hear that Watson is likely to leave the Dodgers and accept an assistant GM position with the Diamondbacks (Twitter link).
4:26pm: Nightengale writes that the D’Backs are still hoping to hire Watson as an assistant GM, but he is expected to remain with the Dodgers.
2:52pm: Stewart says he is transferring his agency business to former teammate Dave Henderson, reports John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle. That would presumably clear the way for Stewart to take the D’Backs job.
Though Stewart did not comment as to whether he had been offered the position, his comments certainly left the impression that he was preparing to take the reigns in Arizona. “As an agent, I’m not challenged every day,” he said. “But this job is 24 hours every day, and I’m looking forward to that.”
12:12pm: The job has “officially” been offered to Stewart, though discussions are still ongoing, tweets Nightengale.
12:01pm: Stewart tells Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic that he has yet to be told that he has been chosen for the position, but hopes that he is. “My name, Allard [Baird] and De Jon [Watson] are three names that are, as far as I know, are the last names that are left,” said Stewart. “I do know that by my last conversation with Tony [La Russa], he planned to let us know within the course of today. That does not mean it’s going to happen today but I know it was their plan to give us an indication. We’re sitting on pins and needles, too.”
11:29am: The team is “deep in negotiations” with Stewart on a contractual arrangement, but the sides have yet to reach agreement, tweets Bob Nightengale of USA Today.
10:29am: The Diamondbacks are set to offer the club’s open GM position to Dave Stewart, sources tell Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Stewart, 57, has long been said to be the top candidate for the post.
The former big league pitcher, coach, and assistant GM is currently a player agent. Stewart’s broad experience carries obvious appeal, and it surely does not hurt that he has a strong history with D’backs chief baseball officer Tony La Russa, his former manager with the Athletics.
It is not yet known whether an offer has formally been made, Heyman adds, let alone whether a deal has been worked out. This employment situation could be trickier than usual since Stewart would need to figure out what to do with his agency business. Of course, he has now had plenty of time to consider that question, and Stewart has indicated that he would be strongly inclined to take the job if offered.
We recently covered the many changes in minor league affiliates. One of those — the Brewers parting ways with former Triple-A affiliate Nashville — appeared to feature considerable consternation on the MLB team’s part. As Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports, Nashville’s owner has now acknowledged that he wanted a new parent club because the Brewers had not done enough to put a winning ballclub on the field at the Triple-A level. Nashville’s new MLB club, the Athletics, has enjoyed a strong recent run of success at the top minor league level.
- Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. has logged significant air miles in recent days, as Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes. In addition to taking a personal look at Yasmany Tomas, Amaro flew to Japan to put eyes on starter Kenta Maeda, as MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes reports on Twitter. Both international targets offer relative youth, a rare commodity on the free agent market, though that obviously increases their appeal to other clubs as well.
- Dodgers reliever Chris Perez has already earned $1.5MM in incentives this year on top of his $2.3MM base salary, reports Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times. He picked up $500K each for his 35th, 40th, and 45th appearances, and will trigger another half-million payday with his next call from the pen. The 29-year-old has struggled to a 4.27 ERA over 46 1/3 frames, and his peripherals (7.6 K/9, 4.9 BB/9, 37.7% groundball rate, 5.07 FIP) do not paint a more favorable picture.
- Giants center fielder Angel Pagan will undergo season-ending back surgery, Alex Pavlovic of the Mercury News tweets. The 33-year-old has performed well when healthy, but has made just 718 plate appearances since signing a four-year, $40MM contract before the 2013 season.
7:41am: Haren insisted to reporters last night, including Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times (Twitter link), that he wouldn’t make a decision on whether or not to exercise his option until after the Dodgers’ season is over.
10:48pm: Dodgers starter Dan Haren now holds a $10MM player option for next season after notching his 180th inning on the year. By reaching that mark, he also triggered a $500K bonus (on top of $1.5MM in innings-pitched and games-started bonuses already met).
Haren, who just turned 34, joined the Dodgers on a one-year, $10MM deal that was filled with a variety of incentives. He has now achieved most of them, including the most valuable: the $10MM player option for next year. At one point, 180 innings seemed like a long shot, but Haren fought through a mid-season swoon and re-emerged as a much-needed piece of an injury-riddled rotation. Barring a decision to retire, Haren would seem to be fairly likely to take the option to continue throwing in his native California.
Of course, Haren could in theory still be tempted to test the open market. He has had an up-and-down year, but entered the day with a 4.14 ERA on the back of 6.9 K/9 against 1.9 BB/9. That strikeout total would be his lowest since he became a full-time big league starter back in 2005.
But Haren remains a solid innings-eater (at worst) with plenty of value. Though his days of logging well over 200 frames a year in the low-to-mid 3.00 ERA range are probably over, he has still managed to make 30 starts a year going all the way back to that ’05 campaign. And ERA estimators believe Haren to be as good or better than his earned run totals would suggest: this year, he owns a 4.19 FIP, 3.74 xFIP, and 3.80 SIERA.
In today’s column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes looks at six teams that badly need some fixing this offseason. The list starts with the Braves, who have been held back in part by B.J. Upton‘s five-year, $75MM deal. The Rangers also need some serious help in the form of two starting pitchers, a right-handed power bat, and possibly a catcher. The Phillies are in the toughest spot of all, Cafardo writes, as they are overloaded with older players on bad contracts. Here are some of the highlights from today’s column..
- As teams start putting together lists of pitchers who could be had in trade this offseason, Jeremy Hellickson’s name has been surfacing. One AL team believes that the Rays could make another Wil Myers-Jake Odorizzi for James Shields-Wade Davis type of deal centering around Hellickson, who is still just 27 and inexpensive.
- It looks more and more like Twins manager Ron Gardenhire will return next season. A Twins executive said he would be “surprised” if Gardenhire didn’t come back based on his young team playing hard and having fun playing the spoiler role down the stretch.
- Even with Alex Rodriguez coming back, Cafardo sees the Yankees as a possibility for Hanley Ramirez if the Dodgers don’t retain him.
- The Red Sox haven’t committed to bringing David Ross back next season but it doesn’t appear he’ll have to worry about finding a job. A few teams have privately discussed Ross as a backup/mentor. If Boston moves on from Ross, there aren’t many clear-cut alternatives on the open market.
- Red Sox vice president of player personnel Allard Baird had a very good interview for the Diamondbacks‘ vacant GM job, but Tony La Russa is still leaning towards Dave Stewart or Gary LaRocque, according to a source. Baird, of course, was the GM of the Royals from 2000-06.
- Red Sox third base coach Brian Butterfield is beginning to receive more interest as a managerial candidate. Don’t be surprised to see his name mentioned more often for openings, Cafardo writes.
39-year-old Jamey Wright will start against the Cubs tomorrow for the Dodgers, with Dan Haren taking the ball Monday as the Dodgers scramble to find starters in the wake of Hyun-Jin Ryu‘s injury. Wright will presumably pitch a few innings, then be followed by a succession of relievers. As ESPN Los Angeles’ Mark Saxon tweets, Sunday will be only the second start for Wright in the past seven seasons. Wright has had a long second act as a reliever, and with reasonable numbers and the ability to pitch multiple innings, he’ll probably get another shot to pitch out of some team’s bullpen next season. It’s not as likely that he’ll get another chance as a starter, however. The Dodgers will be the eighth team for which he’s started, with his first start coming all the way back in 1996 as a 21-year-old with the Rockies. Here’s more from around the game.
- At the end of his career, Derek Jeter is a “diminished product,” and a number of other franchises could soon watch their icons throughout long periods of decline, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes. For example, the Mets still owe David Wright $107MM, and he’s in his early thirties and in the midst of a mediocre season. Sherman notes that Dustin Pedroia could turn out the same way for the Red Sox. That’s might not be such an obvious case, however — Pedroia’s offense is down this season, at .278/.337/.376, but he’s still produced a healthy 4.3 fWAR thanks to his strong defense. He is, however, signed through 2021.
- Dan Duquette was the right choice to lead the Orioles, Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald writes. Duquette wasn’t the Orioles’ top choice when they hired him in 2011 — other candidates were wary of working with owner Peter Angelos. Since then, though, they’ve been successful, easily winning the AL East title this season despite injuries to key players like Manny Machado and Matt Wieters. “What Duquette brought to the table was he was a magician … in terms of getting players who have been sent down from other organizations, fallen out of favor, maybe they’re not the prospects anymore, so they have that chip on their shoulder to succeed,” says outfielder Adam Jones.
Three clubs in the league’s western division may have the greatest trade deadline regrets, in the opinion of MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince (writing for Sports On Earth). The Athletics have seen their fortunes fade since dealing away Yoenis Cespedes for Jon Lester, though of course Lester has been outstanding. The Mariners‘ three key additions — Austin Jackson, Kendrys Morales, and Chris Denorfia — have generally failed to hit. And the Dodgers passed on a chance to add an impact starter.
- Of course, it is eminently arguable that the Athletics‘ underperformance since the deadline is really not a reflection on Cespedes-Lester swap at all, as Tony Blengino of Fangraphs explains. The team has failed to score runs, to be sure, but that is due in large part to the production fall-offs from key first-half contributors like Brandon Moss, Derek Norris, and John Jaso (the latter, in large part, due to injury).
- The one-year extensions signed before the season by Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson and then-GM Kevin Towers contain rollover clauses that provide for automatic re-extensions if they are not dismissed by a certain date, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. (Such an anti-lame duck provision is also a feature of the Blue Jays’ contract with manager John Gibbons.) Player support for Gibson is “all but gone,” sources tell Rosenthal, but he could still be retained by chief baseball officer Tony La Russa.
- Meanwhile, Rosenthal joins others in reporting that Dave Stewart is the leading candidate to take over as GM. Stewart says he is “very interested” in the position, and his hiring would make it likely that Towers stays on in a senior scouting role, according to Rosenthal.
- Of course, the status of Stewart’s agency business (Sports Management Partners) would be up in the air if he takes the job. Rosenthal reports that some key clients such as Matt Kemp of the Dodgers have said they would stay on with SMP if the agency continues without Stewart.
- The Angels‘ run to the AL West crown represents a remarkable turnaround for GM Jerry Dipoto, as Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times writes. One year after most of his moves backfired, Dipoto has pulled off a series of largely successful trades and signings that helped fuel the team’s success. Most remarkably, perhaps, the team has received solid production from a variety of arms that have generally outperformed expectations.
- Another remarkable turnaround in Halos land is the working relationship between Dipoto and manager Mike Scioscia, as Pedro Moura of the Orange County Register writes. Last August, it was even reported that things had deteriorated to the point that one or the other would have to go, though Scioscia shot down the suggestion at the time. Now, Dipoto credits Scioscia with doing an “unbelievable job” at making adjustments and acting on new information — as reflected in the team’s lineup construction and use of defensive shifts.