Luis Valbuena Rumors
The Dodgers have a thrown a wrench into the free agent outfield market by listening to trade offers for Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, and Carl Crawford, writes Jim Bowden of ESPN and MLB Network Radio in an Insider post (subscription required). Scott Boras is also a complicating factor, according to Bowden, because he represents the two top free agent outfielders Jacoby Ellsbury and Shin-Soo Choo (#2 and #3, respectively, on MLBTR's 2014 Top 50 Free Agents list). Bowden theorizes the other top-tier free agent outfielders may wait to sign in order to see how Boras sets the market for Ellsbury and Choo. In today's news and notes from the National League:
- Rockies owner Dick Monfort provided Troy E. Renck of the Denver Post with a detailed line-by-line budget for his franchise. Monfort explains how revenue from the new national TV contract is absorbed by payments on the club's MLB credit line, player raises, and projected revenue losses for not having home dates with the Yankees and Red Sox. Monfort estimates being able to reinvest only $4-5MM of the new TV money into the on-the-field product.
- Renck, via Sulia, agrees with the assessment of MLBTR's Tim Dierkes that the Ricky Nolasco contract resembles Edwin Jackson's. Renck believes the Rockies would have been paralyzed under their self-imposed budget constraints had they signed Nolasco, so their best option for a rotation upgrade is through a trade.
- The Mets will have interest in catcher Tyler Flowers, if he is non-tendered by the White Sox, tweets the New York Post's Mike Puma. Mets executives have liked Flowers in the past and see him as a potential backup to Travis d'Arnaud. Flowers, however, told Scott Merkin of MLB.com "(t)here have been a couple of conversations" with the White Sox about reaching an agreement to avoid arbitration. "I put it at 51-49 in favor of staying because of the contractual conversation we've had before," Flowers said. "They've reached out to me to try to see where each other is at. If they didn't care at all, they would have done nothing and non-tendered me."
- It would be a surprise if the Diamondbacks non-tender left-handed reliever Joe Thatcher because free agent bullpen arms aren't cheap, tweets Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca. Thatcher struggled after Arizona acquired him from San Diego in the Ian Kennedy trade to the tune of a 6.75 ERA, 6.8 K/9, 5.8 BB/9, and 11.6 H/9 in 9 1/3 innings (22 appearances).
- The Cubs will likely tender second baseman Darwin Barney, despite a career-worst season at the plate (.208/.266/.303 in 501 plate appearances), because the only realistic in-house replacement is Luis Valbuena, reasons MLB.com's Carrie Muskat. MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projects a $2.1MM arbitration salary for Barney and $1.5MM for Valbuena, who is playing second base in the Venezuelan Winter League.
- The Cardinals made the right move in signing Jhonny Peralta because they were able to upgrade a position of need while retaining their prized young arms, opines MLB.com's Richard Justice.
St. Patrick's Day is as much of a baseball holiday as Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, or Labor Day thanks to former Reds GM Dick Wagner. Tom Singer of MLB.com chronicles how the baseball tradition of wearing the green came about 35 years ago. Elsewhere from the Reds and the rest of the National League:
- Reds GM Walt Jocketty expects a decision in the next few days on whether Aroldis Chapman will pitch out of the bullpen or be moved into the starting rotatation, reports MLB.com's Mark Sheldon. Chapman stated publicly he wants to close, which didn't sit well with Jocketty. "We don’t let every player tell us how they want to be used," the GM told MLB.com.
- Ian Stewart's lingering left quad injury could affect his chances at making the roster and how the Cubs build their bench, writes MLB.com's Carrie Muskat. Brent Lillibridge, Luis Valbuena, Edwin Maysonet, and Alberto Gonzalez are competing to fill that void while manager Dale Sveum mentioned Steve Clevenger could be an interesting option and added the team is watching all the waiver wires.
- The Rockies are giving serious consideration to making Nolan Arenado their starting third baseman with one club official telling Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com "it’s a tough call." If Arenado receives the nod, Rosenthal believes incumbent third baseman Chris Nelson could be used to acquire a veteran starting pitcher.
- Within the same piece, sources tell Rosenthal the Rockies want to move Ramon Hernandez and are willing to assume some of his $3.2MM salary to facilitate a trade.
- Don't expect the Braves to have any interest in the recently released Matt Diaz because there isn't a need right now, tweets David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
- The Marlins have returned Rule 5 selection Braulio Lara to the Rays, reports Joe Capozzi of The Palm Beach Post. The left-hander appeared in four games for the Marlins this spring throwing four innings allowing two earned runs on five hits with two strikeouts and two walks.
Much-maligned outfielder Jeff Francoeur doesn't blame Royals fans for their criticism of the James Shields / Wil Myers deal, Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star reports, even though Myers would likely have taken playing time away from Francoeur himself. “[W]hen we traded Wil — why the heck did we do that? — I sit there and say, ‘As a fan, looking from the outside, I’d lead that criticism.’ For fans, looking from the outside, I don’t blame them," Francoeur says. “I had a terrible year." Francoeur hit .235/.287/.378 in 2012 as the Royals' starter in right field. Here are more notes from throughout the AL Central.
- Twins assistant general manager Rob Antony admits the Twins have made mistakes in their attempts to find middle infielders, Phil Miller of the Minneapolis Star Tribune writes. Antony laments the trade of J.J. Hardy to the Orioles and describes Alexi Casilla's tenure with the Twins as "so frustrating." Antony also says the Twins "failed" with Tsuyoshi Nishioka. Shortstop Pedro Florimon and second baseman Brian Dozier are next in line to try to stabilize the Twins' middle infield. If Florimon wins the job, he will be the Twins' eighth 2013 Opening Day shortstop in eight years. Minnesota's Opening Day second baseman will be its sixth in seven years.
- After spending 2012 as a reliever, Brett Myers is happy to be part of the Indians' rotation, Sheldon Ocker of the Akron Beacon Journal writes. Myers, who pitched at least 216 innings in both 2010 and 2011, isn't sure why the Astros used him out of the bullpen. “I still don’t know why. They asked me to do it, and I didn’t want to fight them about it. It was one of those things where you do what’s best for the team,” he says. The Indians signed Myers to a one-year, $7MM deal with a club option, and he's assured a job as a starter.
- Ian Stewart's injured quad complicates his pursuit of the Cubs' third base job, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reports. Stewart will be out for ten to 14 days. His contract isn't guaranteed, and the Cubs could save $1.67MM by cutting Stewart by March 16 and $1.5MM by cutting him prior to Opening Day. Luis Valbuena would likely be in line for Stewart's starting job in such a scenario, and could win playing time over Stewart even if Stewart is healthy.
Valbuena hit .219/.310/.340 in 303 plate appearances with Chicago this past season while playing second base and third base. The 27-year-old was first time arbitration eligible as a super two player this winter and had been projected to earn $900K by MLBTR's Matt Swartz. As MLBTR's Arbitration Tracker shows, the Cubs have three remaining arbitration eligible players: Matt Garza, James Russell and Jeff Samardzija.
Alfonso Soriano hit his 30th home run of the season last night, reaching the threshold for the sixth time in his career and for the first time since 2007. The 36-year-old now has a .261/.317/.499 batting line in 568 plate appearances this year. He'll earn $18MM per season through 2014 on a contract that no longer seems as unmovable as it once did. Here are some Cubs-related notes from Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune...
- The idea of spending $150MM-plus on an impact player such as Josh Hamilton isn’t part of the Cubs’ plan, Sullivan reports. He notes that David DeJesus’ $10MM contract and Paul Maholm’s $4.75MM contract were the largest deals the Cubs signed a year ago.
- However, the team expects to be able to spend. "Right now it's kind of hard to say,” manager Dale Sveum said. “You just don't know who will be available. But yeah, we'll spend money somewhere."
- The Cubs need multiple starters, multiple relievers a center fielder, and a third baseman in Sullivan’s estimation. It appears that the Cubs will give Brett Jackson another look in center field despite his poor contact rate.
- Luis Valbuena will be tendered a contract, but Ian Stewart is expected to be non-tendered, Sullivan writes. "Valbuena is going to be part of the organization, and he does one heck of a job himself," Sveum said. MLBTR's Steve Adams discussed Stewart as a non-tender candidate last month.
- Josh Vitters appears to be a long shot at third base, according to Sullivan.
Let's keep track of the day's outright assignments right here...
- The Cubs have outrighted Luis Valbuena to Triple-A, the team announced. Chicago claimed the 26-year-old infielder off waivers from the Blue Jays earlier this week. Valbuena hit .302/.372/.476 with 17 homers in 472 plate appearances for the Indians' Triple-A affiliate last year.
2:18pm: The Cubs have claimed Valbuena, reports ESPN's Keith Law (on Twitter).
Valbuena, 26, was traded from the Indians to the Blue Jays in November. He spent the majority of 2011 with Cleveland's Triple-A affiliate where he hit .302/.372/.476 with 17 homers in 472 plate appearances. The infielder played 194 games for the Indians' varsity squad in 2009 and 2010 and saw a good deal of time at second base.
The Indians have traded Luis Valbuena to the Blue Jays in exchange for cash considerations, according to the team's officlal Twitter account. The infielder was designated for assignment on November 18th.
Valbuena spent the majority of 2011 with Cleveland's Triple-A affiliate where he hit .302/.372/.476 with 17 homers in 472 plate appearances. The infielder, who turns 26 on November 30, played 194 games for the Indians' varsity squad in 2009 and 2010 and saw a good deal of time at second base.
The Indians announced that infielder Luis Valbuena has been designated for assignment. Valbuena, who turns 26 on November 30, saw a lot of time at second base for the Tribe in 2009 and 2010, but spent most of 2011 in the minors.
Valbuena has a career .630 OPS in 806 Major League appearances with Seattle and Cleveland, but has wielded a much more dangerous bat in the minors --- he has a career .304/.387/.468 line in 937 plate appearances at Triple-A. With this minor league production in mind, it's easy to imagine Valbuena being claimed by a team looking for infield depth.
9:00pm: The Mariners have yet to make their pitch to the Indians, according to Hoynes (on Twitter).
8:22pm: The teams are talking about a deal that would send Valbuena to Seattle and reunite him with former Indians manager Eric Wedge, according to Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer (on Twitter).
5:17pm: The Mariners are targeting Indians infielder Luis Valbuena as a second baseman, according to Shannon Drayer of ESPN 710 in Seattle (Twitter link). The 25-year-old appeared in 91 games for the Tribe last year, batting .193/.273/.258 in 310 plate appearances. He hit considerably better in 2009 when he posted a .250/.298/.416 line with 25 doubles.