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In a pair of excellent columns, Arden Zwelling of Sportsnet and Jonah Keri of Grantland offer behind-the-scenes looks at the chaotic week of Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos leading up to the trade deadline. Each spoke directly to Anthopoulos, and while Keri’s piece focuses on blockbuster deals for David Price and Troy Tulowitzki, Zwelling’s looks at each day of Anthopoulos’ week leading up to the deadline (including those trades and other discussions) — painting a vivid picture of the life of a general manager during one of the most chaotic times of the year.
Some highlights from each piece, although I’d highly recommend reading each in its entirety…
- Both Zwelling and Keri note that talks between the Blue Jays and Rockies date back to the offseason, but the initial concept of Jose Reyes and pitching prospects for Tulowitzki surfaced in late May. Anthopoulos, Zwelling writes, had been unwilling to part with Jeff Hoffman until the day that Tulowitzki was traded. When Hoffman’s name was put on the table, talks with Rockies GM Jeff Bridich accelerated quickly. Zwelling’s piece also provides a glimpse into the difficult task of Anthopoulos informing Reyes that he’d been traded.
- Meanwhile, Anthopoulos told Keri that the decision to add Tulowitzki did have its detractors within the Toronto front office. “They brought up the length of his contract, the dollars on his contract, the players we’d have to give up,” said Anthopoulos. However, his take on the situation varied. “Players like that don’t become available,” said the Toronto GM. “They sign 10-year contracts and become the face of a franchise. It wasn’t an easy decision. It was weird, the process was long and stressful … but it was also a lot of fun.”
- Zwelling writes that Anthopoulos was in negotiation for players such as Ben Zobrist, Gerardo Parra and Mike Leake as well, but an eventual phone call from Detroit’s Dave Dombrowski caused him to shift his focus to Price. Dombrowski had told Anthopoulos a week before the trade deadline that he’d call him if he decided to move Price, and despite the fact that Anthopoulos saw constant rumors about Price’s availability, his respect for Dombrowski prevented him from calling to check in. “His guarantee that he’d call me was all I needed,” said Anthopoulos. “Dave’s a complete pro. No matter what was being said in the media, I was going to take his word for it. When and if the time presented itself, he was going to call.”
- Anthopoulos tells Zwelling that while there was pressure to get a deal for Price and/or another starter done, he did have a fallback plan. Anthopoulos had a standing agreement in place for a yet-unnamed lesser pitcher than Price that he could’ve swung on July 31, but the move for Price halted that need.
- Keri notes that Anthopoulos was on the phone with Mariners counterpart Jack Zduriencik discussing Mark Lowe when Dombrowski came calling with the info that he was ready to move Price. “I’m dying to jump off the phone, but I don’t want to do that to Jack,” said Anthopoulos. “I did really want Price, though. So I did hurry it along.”
- Keri cites a Blue Jays source in reporting that the Blue Jays nearly had a trade completed for the Indians’ Carlos Carrasco, but talks fell apart just as the Jays thought they had something worked out. The Jays also checked in with the Phillies on Cole Hamels over the winter, in Spring Training, before the All-Star break and with 10 days to go before the trade deadline, Keri reports, but were repeatedly told that Hamels wouldn’t waive his no-trade clause to approve a deal to Toronto. Anthopoulos also aggressively pursued the Padres’ Tyson Ross, according to Keri’s source, though he gives no indication that anything was as close with Ross as it seemingly was with Carrasco.
Full Story | 14 Comments | Categories: Alex Anthopoulos | Ben Zobrist | Carlos Carrasco | Cleveland Indians | Cole Hamels | Colorado Rockies | David Price | Gerardo Parra | Jeff Hoffman | Jose Reyes | Mark Lowe | Mike Leake | Newsstand | Oakland Athletics | Philadelphia Phillies | San Diego Padres | Seattle Mariners | Toronto Blue Jays | Troy Tulowitzki | Tyson Ross
An elite starting pitcher was a luxury good for the Dodgers, writes Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. That’s why Los Angeles passed on talents like Cole Hamels, David Price, and Johnny Cueto despite possessing the prospect depth to acquire their pick of the litter. Instead, the club flexed its financial might to acquire Mat Latos, Alex Wood, Jim Johnson, Luis Avilan, and Jose Peraza. The biggest piece dealt away by the Dodgers was 30-year-old Cuban infielder Hector Olivera. The utility man has not yet reached the majors after signing a six-year, $62.5MM deal with the Dodgers. A full $28MM of that was in the form of a signing bonus.
Here’s more from Rosenthal:
- Cynics may find a way to criticize the Mets deadline transactions. Perhaps they didn’t add enough to the payroll or were too small minded? However, the moves for Yoenis Cespedes, Tyler Clippard, Kelly Johnson, and Juan Uribe provided essential upgrades to a roster that was showing signs of stress. GM Sandy Alderson deserves kudos for improving the club while working within tight constraints. To me, this was Rosenthal’s money quote, “Mets fans will not be satisfied – and should not be satisfied – until the team raises its payroll to a level more commensurate with the New York market.“
- Echoing the sentiments of many analysts, both the Phillies and Rangers did well in the Hamels trade. With the Phillies taking on Matt Harrison and chipping in cash, the Rangers will pay Hamels an average of $13MM to $14MM per season if his option vests. They also hung onto top prospects Joey Gallo and Nomar Mazara. On Philadelphia’s end, acquiring three quality prospects will do much to bolster their future.
- The Blue Jays, unlike the Dodgers, are often described as a cash strapped organization. Instead of taking on payroll like L.A., the Blue Jays dealt 11 prospects and Jose Reyes to acquire Troy Tulowitzki, David Price, Ben Revere, Mark Lowe, and LaTroy Hawkins. They’re 6.5 games back in the AL East and 1.5 games behind the Twins for the second Wild Card slot.
- The Astros also spent their prospect chips for major league upgrades. They made the first deadline strike by acquiring Scott Kazmir then paid a princely sum for Carlos Gomez and Mike Fiers. Interestingly, mid-market teams like the Astros, Blue Jays, Mets, and Royals used prospects in their search for October baseball. The Yankees and Dodgers opted to use money or stand pat.
Full Story | 21 Comments | Categories: Alex Wood | Ben Revere | Carlos Gomez | Cole Hamels | David Price | Hector Olivera | Houston Astros | Jim Johnson | Johnny Cueto | Jose Peraza | Jose Reyes | Juan Uribe | Kansas City Royals | Kelly Johnson | LaTroy Hawkins | Los Angeles Dodgers | Luis Avilan | Mark Lowe | Mat Latos | Matt Harrison | Mike Fiers | Minnesota Twins | New York Mets | New York Yankees | Philadelphia Phillies | Scott Kazmir | Texas Rangers | Toronto Blue Jays | Troy Tulowitzki | Tyler Clippard | Yoenis Cespedes
1:07pm: Lefty Rob Rasmussen is the final minor leaguer headed to Toronto, the Blue Jays revealed in officially announcing the trade.
12:24pm: The Mariners are netting three minor leaguers in the deal, reports Joel Sherman of the New York Post (Twitter link).
12:16pm: The Jays have acquired Lowe, tweets Chris Cotillo of SB Nation.
Lowe’s name doesn’t leap off the page as an exciting target based on his track record, but he’s in the midst of an astounding breakout season. Lowe has a pristine 1.00 ERA with 11.8 K/9, 2.8 BB/9 and a 36.5 percent ground-ball rate in 36 innings for Seattle this season, and his 95 mph average fastball is the best heat he’s shown since 2011.
By adding Lowe, who signed a minor league deal this winter, the Blue Jays have secured a relief upgrade that comes with the most minimal of financial commitments. One would think that played a factor in the decision to target him (in addition to his excellent numbers), as the Blue Jays have been said to be on a limited budget and took on quite a bit of cash to acquire David Price yesterday. Lowe will be a rental for the Mariners, as he’s logged well over the necessary six years of big league service required to qualify for free agency at season’s end.
The Astros are “pushing hard” to find an upgrade in the bullpen and have several irons in the fire, according to Jim Bowden of ESPN.com (via Twitter). Given the players under consideration, it looks like Houston is aiming high. We just heard of talks with the Padres that may include Craig Kimbrel, and Bowden says they’ve also discussed Joaquin Benoit. As Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle tweeted earlier, the Rays have spoken with the Astros about pen arms, though he adds nothing seems likely there, and Bowden lists Brad Boxberger and Jake McGee as names that have come up. And Houston has even made inquiries on outstanding Reds closer Aroldis Chapman, he adds.
Here’s more on the relief market, which should be among the most active areas of discussion leading up to tomorrow’s deadline.
- Though the Twins are in the market for relief help, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports (via Twitter) that they’re not interested in either Junichi Tazawa or Craig Breslow of the Red Sox. Berardino hears that the Twins are turned off by Tazawa’s five-plus years of service (he’ll be a free agent after 2016) and Breslow’s impending free agency.
- Mariners right-hander Mark Lowe is drawing quite a bit of interest, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (Twitter link). The journeyman reliever is in the midst of a breakout season, having pitched to an incredible 1.00 ERA with 11.8 K/9, 2.8 BB/9 and a 36.5 percent ground-ball rate in 36 innings this season. Lowe’s average fastball velocity of 95 mph is his best since 2011, and because he took a minor league deal in an attempt to revitalize his career (so far, so good), any team could afford him from a financial standpoint.
Here are today’s minor transactions, with the newest moves at the top of the post…
- The Cubs have agreed to a minor league contract with right-hander Anthony Carter, MLBTR’s Steve Adams reports (Twitter link). The deal contains an invitation to the team’s Spring Training camp. Carter, 28, has a 4.59 ERA, 7.6 K/9 and 2.61 K/BB rate over 680 1/3 career IP in the Padres, Red Sox and White Sox farm systems. He spent most of the 2014 season in Japan, posting a 3.97 ERA over 45 1/3 relief innings for the Nippon Ham Fighters.
- The Mariners announced the signings of right-hander Mark Lowe and infielder Carlos Rivero to minor league contracts. Lowe originally pitched for Seattle from 2006-10 and the veteran spent 2014 in the Indians’ organization, a season that included an outright assignment to Triple-A and a 3.86 ERA over seven Major League innings. Rivero was originally claimed by Seattle off waivers from the Red Sox in November, and he’s rejoining the M’s after being non-tendered by the club earlier this month. Rivero made his Major League debut last season, appearing in eight games with Boston.
Here are Sunday’s minor moves from around MLB:
- Diamondbacks outfielder Nolan Reimold has elected free agency, per the club’s transactions page. After spending the first half of 2014 on the disabled list, Reimold, who turns 31 today, was released by the Orioles in July and promptly claimed by the Blue Jays where he batted .212/.283/.404. in 60 plate appearances. Reimold was then designated for assignment by Toronto in August and claimed by the Diamondbacks. The former top-100 prospect, who has been injury-plagued undergoing a pair of neck surgeries and an ankle operation, fared much better in Arizona, albeit in a smaller sample size, slashing .294/.278/.529 in 17 plate appearances.
- Catcher Bobby Wilson and infielder Ronny Cedeno have opted for free agency rather accept their outright assignment by the Diamondbacks to Triple-A Reno, according to the Pacific Coast League’s transactions page.
- Infielder Jeff Bianchi and catcher Matt Pagnozzi have declared their free agency by refusing their outright assignment to Triple-A Colorado Springs by the Brewers, reports Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
- Other players declaring free agency who saw MLB action in 2014, per the PCL and International League transactions page, are: Ian Stewart (Angels), Justin Germano (Dodgers), Clint Robinson (Dodgers), Mark Lowe (Indians), Greg Dobbs (Nationals), Jason Pridie (Rockies), and Danny Worth (Tigers).
Full Story | 6 Comments | Categories: Arizona Diamondbacks | Bobby Wilson | Cleveland Indians | Clint Robinson | Colorado Rockies | Danny Worth | Detroit Tigers | Greg Dobbs | Ian Stewart | Jason Pridie | Jeff Bianchi | Justin Germano | Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim | Los Angeles Dodgers | Mark Lowe | Milwaukee Brewers | Nolan Reimold | Ronny Cedeno | Transactions | Washington Nationals
Here are today’s outright assignments and minor transactions from around the league…
- Orioles right-hander Julio DePaula has cleared waivers and been assigned outright to Double-A Bowie, according to Baltimore’s transactions page. DePaula didn’t appear in a game with the Orioles after his brief promotion and was designated for assignment when Bud Norris returned from the DL earlier this week.
- Right-hander Mark Lowe has cleared waivers and accepted an outright assignment with the Indians, Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish reports (on Twitter). The hard-throwing Lowe has a career 4.16 ERA with 7.7 K/9 and 4.2 BB/9 in 281 1/3 innings of relief work at the Major League level.
The Indians have designated righty Mark Lowe for assignment, the club announced via press release. Lowe, 31, was added on a minor league deal late in the spring.
Since a mid-season call-up, Lowe has allowed three earned runs in seven innings. But he also has as many strikeouts as walks, with six apiece, and has given up ten base knocks. Over 281 1/3 career frames, all as a reliever, Lowe owns a 4.16 ERA with 7.7 K/9 and 4.2 BB/9.
3:43pm: Lowe's deal includes an April 30th opt-out clause, and also allows him to leave for an MLB opportunity at any time, tweets Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com.
12:23pm: The Indians have agreed to sign reliever Mark Lowe to a minor league deal, reports Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times (on Twitter). Lowe had been in camp with the Rays until he was released after learning he would not get an Opening Day roster spot.
Lowe had a tough go of things in a brief stint last year with the Angels, but had put up a 3.60 ERA across 2009-12. And the thirty-year-old righty has posted excellent strikeout tallies in the upper minors. In 10 1/3 spring innings with Tampa, Lowe surrendered only one earned run while striking out 12 and walking just one batter.
MLBTR's Offseason In Review series continued earlier today with my look at the Orioles' winter moves, covering everything from the Ubaldo Jimenez and Nelson Cruz signings to the lack of progress on extensions for Chris Davis, J.J. Hardy and Matt Wieters. Here's some more from around the AL East…
- Yankees GM Brian Cashman told reporters (including ESPN New York's Wallace Matthews) that he's "hearing from a lot of people about" catchers John Ryan Murphy and Austin Romine. The Yankees have been shopping their catching depth for weeks, and now that Francisco Cervelli has won the backup job, Murphy and Romine could be more expendable. Cashman, however, doesn't feel pressure to move either players. "They’re assets. We’re not in any position where we have to do anything, but if something made sense, we’d consider it. But right now, we’re happy with what we’ve got," Cashman said.
- Rays manager Joe Maddon told reporters (including Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times) that he has informed Wilson Betemit and Jayson Nix that they won't be making Tampa's Opening Day roster, in order to give the two players extra time to find another Major League opportunity. The two veterans signed minor league deals with the Rays earlier this winter and have the ability to opt out, though Betemit told Topkin that he would play for Tampa's Triple-A affiliate if he couldn't find a roster spot elsewhere (Topkin believes Nix feels the same way).
- Mark Lowe is also open to returning to the Rays, the veteran right-hander tells Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times. Lowe's family lives in the Tampa area and he praised the Rays organization, saying that he would be willing to pitch at Triple-A unless, like Betemit and Nix, he finds a job with another team. The Rays granted Lowe his release earlier today after he was also told he wouldn't make the 25-man roster.
- The Blue Jays' decision to make Dustin McGowan their fifth starter raises concerns about whether McGowan is up to the task both performance-wise and health-wise, Sportsnet.ca's Shi Davidi writes. Since McGowan made the rotation almost by default given how the Jays' other options struggled, Davidi wonders "if he and the Blue Jays are playing a game of Russian Roulette with his career" by returning McGowan to a starting role before he's even fully stretched out. The injury-plagued McGowan missed three of the previous four seasons with shoulder and knee surgeries but pitched effectively over 25 2/3 innings out of the bullpen in 2013.
- Corey Brown didn't invoke the opt-out clause in his minor league contract with the Red Sox and will report to the club's Triple-A club, Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe reports.