Manuel Margot Rumors

Heyman’s Latest: A-Rod, BoSox, Bryant, Ventura, Gordon, Duda

In this week’s edition of his Inside Baseball column, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports begins by looking at the contentious courtroom showdown that stands between Alex Rodriguez and as much as $30MM worth of home run milestone bonuses. As Heyman notes, people on all sides of the case have reasons to dislike A-Rod. Rodriguez filed a lawsuit (that was eventually dropped) against the MLBPA, and he parted ways with agent Scott Boras more than six years ago. The Yankees’ reasons for resenting Rodriguez are obvious, as are those of the league, with whom Rodriguez battled to reduce a 212-game suspension to a still-significant 162 game ban. Heyman looks at the arguments that can be made by both sides as well as the potential fallout once the situation is finally resolved.

Some highlights from the latest edition of Heyman’s newest weekly column…

  • Though the Red Sox aren’t blinking when it comes to trade talks with the Phillies regarding Cole Hamels, one rival GM considers Boston the favorite. The Phillies quite like center field prospect Manuel Margot, and Boston does have other nice pieces. Heyman notes that one scout actually expressed concern to him about Mookie Betts‘ ability to hit the ball on the outer half of the plate, but the Sox remain steadfast in their refusal to part ways with Betts.
  • The Cubs aren’t concerned with a potential grievance being filed against them on behalf of Kris Bryant. Rather, their main concern is trying to find a way to extend him beyond his current allotment of team control. Heyman hears that Cubs are already considering trying to make him a Cub for life, though he also notes that it’s a bit early for those discussions.
  • White Sox skipper Robin Ventura signed an extension of an unreported length prior to the 2014 season, and Heyman now hears that Ventura is under contract through the 2016 season. The contract length is said to be of little importance to ChiSox owner Jerry Reinsdorf, who loves Ventura.
  • The Royals plan to try to do “whatever they can” to retain Alex Gordon beyond the 2015 season. The 32-year-old Gordon’s $12.5MM player option has increased to $13.25MM based on performance escalators, per Heyman. While Gordon has implied that he will exercise the option in the past, it’s exceptionally difficult to envision him merely picking up the option rather than trying for a highly lucrative multi-year deal. The Royals never felt they had a great shot at retaining James Shields, but their hope with Gordon is that the career Royal and Nebraska native might be easier to retain. Heyman adds that while the club is interested in trying to extend Salvador Perez beyond the 2019 season, those talks aren’t likely to come until after the season.
  • Juan Uribe is off to a decent start with the Dodgers, but the hot play of Alex Guerrero and the addition of Hector Olivera in Spring Training could eventually lead to Uribe becoming available on the trade market. Uribe’s at hasn’t lined up with his previous seasons to this point, but he’s hit a perhaps surprisingly strong .293/.333/.435 dating back to Opening Day 2013.
  • Rival executives are anxiously anticipating a Brewers fire sale following the club’s awful 5-17 start to the season, Heyman hears. One exec listed Carlos Gomez, Khris Davis, Jean Segura, Gerardo Parra, Kyle Lohse and Francisco Rodriguez as players who will draw interest, noting that Jonathan Lucroy is probably untouchable, while Matt Garza and Ryan Braun are somewhat overpriced.
  • The Mets were trying for a three-year extension that contained a club option and would’ve guaranteed Lucas Duda a bit shy of $30MM. I’d imagine that with Duda could end up the beneficiary in that scenario, particularly if he can sustain the increase in his walk rate and the more notable decrease in his strikeout rate.
  • Multiple Yankees people have shot down the notion that the team would pursue Hamels when asked by Heyman. One replied that the team is “not looking” at Hamels, while another wondered if Hamels is still a legitimate ace or more of just a big name.

East Notes: Brown, Margot, Hamels, Mujica, Tanaka

The Phillies have optioned former All-Star Domonic Brown to Triple-A after his rehab stint came to a close. Brown broke out in 2013 but endured a rough season last year, and it now seems he’ll have to earn his way back onto the active roster. In spite of his troubles, writes David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News, the 27-year-old has upside that remains worth trying to tap into for the rebuilding club.

Here’s more from the game’s eastern divisions:

  • The Phillies are sending former skipper Charlie Manuel to watch Red Sox minor leaguer Manuel Margot, Murphy reports. Margot, a rising prospect, could in theory be an important piece in a deal involving Philadelphia starter Cole Hamels, though at present that is a largely speculative connection. As WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford writes, it is “intriguing” to consider whether the Phils would consider structuring a deal around Margot and, perhaps, one of Boston’s upper-level arms — a scenario that Peter Gammons suggested earlier in the winter (Twitter link).
  • As things stand, the Red Sox are not yet prepared to make a move for Hamels, writes Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald. But, says Lauber, the club should be prepared to do so — perhaps sooner than later. Indeed, as Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes, things could be shaping up for an earlier-than-usual market, particularly with a number of possible Hamels suitors dealing with significant rotation issues.
  • There have been recent suggestions that struggling Red Sox reliever Edward Mujica may be in trouble of losing his roster spot, as Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe tweeted last night. But while a Boston roster move is expected today, tweets the Globe’s Nick Cafardo, it is not expected to be a DFA of the embattled righty.
  • The Yankees are among the clubs dealing with concerns in their starting five, due in large part to the enhanced uncertainty surrounding Masahiro Tanaka. As John Harper of the New York Daily News writes, the club is still hopeful that its ace will return this summer, though there is plenty of reason for skepticism. As Andrew Marchand of ESPNNewYork.com explains, the larger concern is perhaps whether Tanaka’s devastating splitter will ultimately prove an unsustainable offering in the long run. “That’s what’s made him successful, so that’s how he pitches so you have to deal with it,” said manager Joe Girardi.

Prospect Rumor Roundup: July 2 Prospects

Hardcore fans will be eagerly anticipating July 2, 2013. That date represents the first day that Major League Baseball teams can sign this year's crop of international free agents, many of whom recently turned (or will be turning) 16 years old and are in line for seven-figure bonuses. No one covers the international market better than Baseball America's Ben Badler, who has been busy compiling information on all the key international prospects. Follow this link to read up on the cream of the crop for the 2013 signing period.

Badler has been following the international free agent market for a number of years now and has educated fans on quite a few Latin amateurs who have gone on to become top prospects in their respective organizations. Much like selecting players in the annual North American amateur draft, dabbling in the international market comes with a great deal of risk — especially given how raw many of these teenagers can be when they sign their first contracts. Not surprisingly, it can take years for these particular prospects to develop.

Like the amateur draft, the rules changed for the international market in 2012 to include a spending limit, which has significantly reduced the bonuses. Taking a look back at Baseball America's top international prospects list from 2011 — the last year that teams could spend freely without restrictions and penalties — we find a number of players that have become top prospects and intriguing sleepers. Below is a look at some of the best 2011 signees, as of this date, and numbered by Badler's original pre-July 2 talent ranking.

1. Elier Hernandez, OF, Kansas City: Despite being given the third highest bonus in the signing class at $3MM, Hernandez struggled in his 2012 debut and hit just .208 with 66 strikeouts in 60 games. He has returned to the same Rookie ball club for the 2013 season and is hitting .308 through six games, but has eight strikeouts and no walks.

2. Ronald Guzman, 1B, Texas Rangers: Texas signed two Latin players in 2011 for a total of more than $8MM, and Guzman received a $3.5 MM payday, good for the second highest bonus overall. Assigned to full-season ball in 2013, the outfielder-turned-first-baseman didn't play until the end of May thanks to an injury. Guzman, 18, came out swinging and is hitting .333 in his first 19 games, although he has yet to tap into his raw power and has walked just two times. Jason Cole of Lonestar Ball interviewed Guzman earlier this month and caught it on video.

3. Victor Sanchez, RHP, Seattle Mariners: The hard-throwing Sanchez has had little trouble with professional hitters to date. He allowed just 69 hits and a 3.18 ERA in 85 Rookie ball innings in 2012. He currently features a 2.43 ERA with just six walks in 40 2/3 innings of work in A-ball. He missed about a month of the '13 season after being placed on the temporarily inactive list. Rick Randall of Lookout Landing took an in-depth look at some of the Mariners' lesser-known prospects in April — including Sanchez.

4. Roberto Osuna, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays: Signed out of the Mexican League for a bonus of $1.5 MM, Osuna has flashed a mature approach on the mound and has been quite reliable when healthy. Unfortunately, he was shut down for a short period of time earlier this year when a small tear was discovered in his throwing elbow. Rather than undergo Tommy John surgery, the organization chose to try rest and rehab — a similar approach that was taken with former Yankees prospect Arodys Vizcaino, which merely delayed the inevitable. Gregor Chisholm and Teddy Cahill of MLB.com took a look at Osuna shortly after he returned from his rehab.

5. Wuilmer Becerra, OF, Toronto Blue Jays: Becerra was given a $1.3 MM signing bonus. His North American debut in 2012 was cut short when he was hit in the face by an errant pitch and required surgery. He was then traded to the New York Mets during the offseason as part of the package for Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey. In April, Mike Kerwick provided a piece for Baseball America (subscription required) that detailed the high hopes that the Mets front office has for the young prospect, who's back playing the Gulf Coast League in 2013.

6. Dawel Lugo, SS, Toronto Blue Jays: The third player signed by the Jays for more than $1MM, Lugo is repeating Rookie ball in 2013, although he's moved up to a more advanced league. He's off to a hot start with 11 hits in his first six games in the Appalachian League and is firmly in the conversation for the Jays' shortstop of the future.

10. Nomar Mazara, OF, Texas Rangers: Given the largest bonus among the projected top prospects in the 2011 class, Mazara received a whopping $5 MM bonus. He's now one of the youngest players in full-season A-ball after spending the 2012 season in Rookie ball. The outfielder has flashed some intriguing power at times but he's also experienced some growing pains with a .246 batting average and 75 strikeouts in 71 games.

12. Raul (Adalberto) Mondesi, SS, Kansas City Royals: The son of former big leaguer Raul Mondesi, the prospect formerly known as Adalberto originally signed for $2MM. He came stateside in 2012 and more than held his own as a 17 year old in Rookie ball by posting a .733 OPS and .290 batting average. It's been a little tougher for him in 2013 at the A-ball level. He's struck out 71 times in 66 games but is warming up with the weather and has a .292 batting average in June. Ashley Marshall of MiLB.com checked in with Mondesi after he hit for the cycle in late May.

14. Dorssys Paulino, SS, Cleveland Indians: Paulino wowed talent evaluators during his pro debut in 2012 and found himself on a number of top prospects lists. Signed for $1.1MM, the teenager hit .355 during his Rookie ball debut and even earned a late-season promotion to the more advanced New York Penn League. Promoted to A-ball in 2013, Paulino has struggled with a .594 OPS in 63 games. On the plus side, his numbers have improved a little bit with each passing month. Guy Cipriano of the Cleveland New-Herald penned a piece on Paulino and his efforts to adjust to life in North America and as a professional baseball player.

16. Manuel Margot, OF, Boston Red Sox: The Red Sox took a more cautious approach with Margot than a number of organizations did with other prospects on this list. He opened his pro career in the Dominican Summer League in 2012 before moving all the way up into the New York Penn League this summer. The teenager has teased talent evaluators with a four-tool approach and outstanding athletic ability. Alex Speier, writing for WEEI.com, looked at the Red Sox difficult decision on where to assign Margot for the 2013 season.