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Despite shaky defense, Wilmer Flores will remain the Mets starting shortstop, reports Ken Rosenthal in his latest video for FOX Sports. However, one alternative is to trade Daniel Murphy, shift Flores to second base, and promote shortstop prospect Matt Reynolds. The move would instantly upgrade the Mets’ infield defense. Per Rosenthal, the club may prefer to promote Reynolds once David Wright returns to action.
As for trading Murphy, the club may look to acquire a prospect or reliever. Aside from Jeurys Familia and a couple role players, the Mets bullpen has been a little shaky. However, strong starting pitching has allowed the club to hide that shortcoming. New York relievers have thrown the fewest innings of any team. Conversely, their starters lead the league in innings pitched. Here’s more from Rosenthal:
- Cubs second base prospect Javier Baez is on an 11-for-22 streak, leading to speculation that he could be promoted. The easiest way to insert him into the lineup would be to move Kris Bryant to the outfield and Baez to third. Since the club is juggling several important future pieces, they’ll want to be careful about how they handle the logjam.
- The Orioles are built to sell with eight players on the 25 man roster set to reach free agency after the season. Don’t expect a fire sale anytime soon. Baltimore is just four games back in a shaky AL East. Owner Peter Angelos is loathe to throw in the towel. He famously nixed a couple trades involving Bobby Bonilla and David Wells during the 1996 season. The club later clawed its way into the postseason. It would seem the Orioles’ woes would have to get a lot worse before Chris Davis and others were shopped.
- Many speculate that Mark Trumbo will be available this summer, however the Diamondbacks have publicly resisted the idea. Per Rosenthal, the club believes they will contend next season once Patrick Corbin and other youngsters solidify the rotation. Trumbo is signed to a $6.9MM contract and has one year of arbitration remaining. Arizona could replace Trumbo with a platoon of David Peralta and Yasmany Tomas.
Here are the highlights from an enormous notes post by Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports:
- There’s the potential for lots of trade activity between now and Opening Day, with an unusual number of teams with logjams at particular positions. But there aren’t many good pitching options, and many teams are already close to their payroll limits.
- The Rays are one of several teams looking for starting pitching, but they’re currently focusing their efforts on depth, figuring they only need to cover for injured starters Alex Cobb and Drew Smyly for a month or so.
- If the Phillies struggle early in the year, trade whispers involving Chase Utley could grow louder, with the Padres, Angels and possibly Giants looming as potentially interested teams. Utley would, of course, have to waive his no-trade clause, but he has West Coast roots.
- The Diamondbacks are currently unwilling to trade Mark Trumbo, but that could change if they become dissatisfied with their outfield defense.
- The Orioles discussed trading lefty Brian Matusz to the Rangers before Texas acquired Sam Freeman, and have listened to other clubs interested in Matusz as well. But the Nationals might be more willing than the Orioles to trade a lefty reliever — some within the Orioles see Matusz as a better option than either T.J. McFarland or Wesley Wright.
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 Phillies‘ Chase Utley, the Reds‘ Brandon Phillips, the Diamondbacks‘ Aaron Hill, and the Mets‘ Daniel 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.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Aaron Hill | Andre Ethier | Arizona Diamondbacks | Brandon Phillips | Carlos Quentin | Chase Utley | Cincinnati Reds | Colorado Rockies | Daniel Murphy | Elvis Andrus | Jhoulys Chacin | Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim | Los Angeles Dodgers | Mark Trumbo | Matt Kemp | New York Mets | Philadelphia Phillies | San Diego Padres | Texas Rangers
The Mariners‘ additions of Justin Ruggiano, Rickie Weeks and Nelson Cruz should help them hit fastballs better this season, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports writes. MLB hitters batted .272 against fastballs last year, but Ruggiano, Weeks and Cruz were all well above .300. The Mariners batted .267 against fastballs last year, but the team felt they were too passive against them. “I bet we were the worst fastball-hitting team last season,” a Mariners employee tells Rosenthal. That might be an exaggeration, but there surely is room for improvement — FanGraphs ranked the Mariners offense the 12th-worst in baseball against the fastball last year. Here’s more from the American League.
- The Rays have David DeJesus available in a trade, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports writes (Twitter links). Heyman also points out, though, that this isn’t the easiest time to trade outfielders, with the Red Sox, Padres and other teams having plenty available. DeJesus does, however, remain useful, hitting .248/.344/.403 while playing mostly DH last season. With the team having added Steven Souza and the left-handed John Jaso this offseason, though, there’s currently no clear role for DeJesus in Tampa (although news broke this afternoon that Souza will undergo a precautionary MRI for forearm tightness).
- The Rangers are not likely to trade for an outfielder, and will likely instead try to fill the position from inside their organization, Rosenthal tweets. The team considered adding Mark Trumbo of the Diamondbacks, but did not like the idea of Trumbo patrolling the large left field in Globe Life Park. The team is currently considering a variety of options in left, including Ryan Rua, Jake Smolinski and Ryan Ludwick, all of them righties, along with lefties Nate Schierholtz and Carlos Peguero.
The Mariners’ defeat of reliever Tom Wilhelmsen today ended this offseason’s arbitration season. This year, 14 players went to arbitration hearings, with the players winning six times and teams winning eight. Via MLBTR’s Arbitration Tracker, here are the results.
|Player||Team||Player Amt.||Team Amt.||Player won?|
|Alejandro De Aza||Orioles||$5.650MM||$5.000MM||No|
|Josh Donaldson||Blue Jays||$5.750MM||$4.300MM||No|
|Danny Valencia||Blue Jays||$1.675MM||$1.250MM||Yes|
A few notes:
- Via MLBTR’s 2014 Arbitration Tracker, only three players (Andrew Cashner, Vinnie Pestano and Josh Tomlin) had hearings last year, so 14 hearings this year marks a dramatic spike. No players had hearings in the 2012-2013 offseason, and seven players did in 2011-2012. The number of hearings this offseason was the most since 2001, although not everyone is convinced this is the start of a trend, according to the Associated Press. ”Just as I didn’t think [2012-2013] was the start of a trend when we had no hearings, I do not think any conclusions can be drawn at this point from the increased number of hearings this year,” says MLB chief legal officer Don Halem.
- The Pirates alone took three players to arbitration, as many as all teams combined in the previous two offseasons.
- Teams will pay the 14 players who went to arbitration $57.925MM next season, saving a total of about $1.5MM versus the midpoints between those 14 players’ proposed figures and those of their teams.
- There appears to be no obvious pattern in which players won and which lost (which isn’t necessarily surprising, since the terms of each arbitration hearing are set ahead of time by the teams and agents who determine the figures, and not by the arbitrators). As CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman notes (via Twitter), better established players (like Josh Donaldson, Neil Walker and Mat Latos) mostly lost their hearings, while players coming off mediocre or poor seasons, like Pedro Alvarez, Mark Trumbo and Mike Minor, won theirs.
- In terms of overall dollar value, Donaldson might be the player most affected by the result of his hearing, which he lost. There was a fairly large gap (over $1.4MM) between his proposed figure and that of the Blue Jays. Donaldson is also a Super Two player in the midst of his first year of arbitration eligibility, and his salary for 2015 could impact his salary in the next three seasons after that.
Outfielder Mark Trumbo has won his arbitration hearing against the Diamondbacks, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (on Twitter). Trumbo will earn a $6.9MM salary, which is significantly higher than the $5.3MM figure submitted by the club coming off an injury-shortened campaign. Trumbo’s agents at Wasserman Media Group did well to handily top the projection of MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz, who had pegged him for a $5.7MM salary.
Trumbo, 29, will receive a sizable $2.1MM raise despite missing roughly half the 2014 season. (Conversely, the team’s $5.3MM figure called for a raise of just $500K.) Though his first season with the D-Backs was shortened, he did post solid power numbers, hitting 14 homers and driving in 61 runs in just 88 games (362 plate appearances). While he rated as a sub-replacement-level player due to a .293 OBP and some particularly unsightly grades from defensive metrics, arbitration places greater emphasis on baseball card numbers like homers and RBIs than more modern statistics.
This marks Trumbo’s second trip through the arbitration process, and he’ll look to stay on the field for the entirety of the 2015 season and continue to post strong power numbers in hopes of an even more substantial raise next winter. He’s arbitration eligible one more time before becoming a free agent following the 2016 season. Arizona originally acquired Trumbo in a three-team trade that sent left-hander Tyler Skaggs to the Angels and center fielder Adam Eaton to the White Sox.
Former Rockies general manager Dan O’Dowd has joined the MLB Network as a studio analyst, writes Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post. O’Dowd resigned from his post after 15 years at the helm of the Rockies last October and was replaced by understudy Jeff Bridich, who worked with O’Dowd for 10 years prior to the switch.
Here’s more on the Senior Circuit’s Western Division…
- Saunders also conducted a Q&A with Rockies skipper Walt Weiss and discussed, among many things, the club’s offseason and Weiss’ role in constructing the roster. Asked about his role in shaping the roster, Weiss said that he “certainly spent a lot of time” not only with Bridich, but with others in the front office. “I enjoyed it,” Weiss added. “We talked about how passionate we are about certain things, as it relates to our club and the game in general. There was a period there where we worked to build a working foundation for now and the future.” Beyond that, Weiss expressed excitement over Bridich’s sharing of his player development background, which gave the manager an even better grasp of the team’s minor league system and future.
- The Diamondbacks are preparing for an arbitration hearing with outfielder Mark Trumbo, reports MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert. Arizona filed at $5.3MM after Trumbo submitted a $6.9MM figure, leaving a fairly substantial gulf. With one more season of eligibility to come, and Trumbo’s 2016 salary built off of whatever base he ends up with this year, the stakes are that much higher.
An international draft is often pitched as the answer to big-market teams cornering the market on top international prospects, though Fangraphs’ Dave Cameron (writing for FOXSports.com) proposes that a firmer spending cap tied to Major League payroll would be a better solution. The proposal extends so far as to abolish the North American first-year player draft, giving smaller-revenue clubs a clearer path to acquiring young talent and giving prospects more freedom in choosing their future employers. Here’s some more from around baseball…
- During an interview (hat tip to MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon) on MLB Network’s “Hot Stove” show, Reds GM Walt Jocketty said that his team is still trying to extend Johnny Cueto. “With Johnny, we’ll never say ‘never.’ We are going to do everything we can to try and come up with some sort of plan to keep him,” Jocketty said. “I’m not sure we’ll be able to, because the numbers are obviously starting to skyrocket and it’s very tough in our market to continue to retain guys at a high price like that. We’ll continue to work on that and see where it comes out.” As last we heard earlier this month, the two sides had reportedly made little progress on an extension that would keep Cueto from free agency next winter.
- Beyond Cueto, Mike Leake is also eligible for free agency after the 2015 season. Jocketty said the Reds kept Leake due to his consistency, and “We’ll see what we can do with him in the future as well” in terms of an extension.
- Ruben Amaro thinks Jonathan Papelbon “probably will” still be a Phillie when Spring Training camp opens, though the GM told Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News that the closer’s status “could change. We’re still having discussions on a couple different fronts with regard to the players we have.” Papelbon has drawn a lot of trade buzz in recent days, with the Brewers rumored to be the favorites to acquire the stopper while the Blue Jays are longer-shot candidates.
- The Diamondbacks haven’t made any progress in negotiations with Mark Trumbo and Addison Reed and it seems like both players’ cases will go to arbitration, GM Dave Stewart tells MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert. A $1.6MM gap separates Trumbo and the Snakes ($6.9MM to $5.3MM) while Reed and the team are $900K apart ($5.6MM to $4.7MM).
- Baseball America has released its 2015 ranking of the top ten prospects in each team’s farm system. More scouting information is available to BA subscribers.
Many players will avoid arbitration today, and dozens of others exchanged figures with their teams in anticipation of hearings. Most cases won’t go to arbitration hearings, but teams such as the Brewers, Rays, Marlins, Blue Jays, Braves, Reds, and White Sox (per the most recent updates) are known for their “file and trial” policies. For players on those teams this marks the last chance at negotiations before a hearing.
MLBTR’s Arbitration Tracker will keep you up to date on every one of the filing numbers from around the game, but here are the highlights — players who filed for $5MM or more. Projections can be found here. Now for the details …
- The Reds countered the $5.7MM filing of Todd Frazier with a $3.9MM figure, according to Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs (via Twitter).
- Third baseman David Freese filed at $7.6MM and the Angels countered at $5.25MM, WAPT’s Mike Perchick tweets. Halos outfielder Matt Joyce has filed for $5.2MM against a $4.2MM counter, according to Perchick (on Twitter).
- Astros center fielder Dexter Fowler filed for $10.8MM while the club countered at $8.5MM, Perchick tweeets.
- Pirates second baseman Neil Walker filed at $9MM while the club landed at $8MM, Perchick tweets.
- Just-acquired reliever Tyler Clippard has filed for $8.85MM against the Athletics, who countered at $7.775MM, Perchick tweets.
- Cardinals center fielder Jon Jay filed at $5MM while the team countered at $4.1MM, MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch tweets.
- Pedro Alvarez has requested a $5.75MM salary for the coming season while the Pirates are at $5.25MM, per a tweet from Perchick.
- Righty Mat Latos filed at $10.4MM and the Marlins countered with a $9.4MM figure, per Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (via Twitter).
- Third baseman Casey McGehee filed at $5.4MM, with the Giants countering at $4MM, Heyman tweets.
- The Braves countered Mike Minor‘s $5.6MM filing number with a $5.1MM team figure, Heyman reports on Twitter.
- Mark Trumbo has filed for $6.9MM against a $5.3MM counter from the Diamondbacks, Heyman tweets. Closer Addison Reed, meanwhile, filed at $5.6MM with the team countering at $4.7MM, per Heyman (via Twitter).
- The Orioles went with a $7.5MM price point for righty Bud Norris, who filed at $10.25MM, per Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun (on Twitter). In both relative and absolute terms, there is an even bigger gap between the O’s ($2MM) and breakout slugger Steve Pearce ($5.4MM), who is looking to cash in on a big season in his final year of eligibility. That news also comes via Connolly, on Twitter.
- Entering his final year of arbitration, infielder Daniel Murphy has filed for $8.6MM while the Mets have submitted a $7.4MM figure, Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com tweets.
- Reds 9th inning man Aroldis Chapman filed for $8.7MM while the team countered at $6.65MM, per Heyman (via Twitter).
- The Orioles and outfielder Alejandro De Aza will negotiate between filing figures of $5MM and $5.65MM, Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com tweets.
- Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer filed at $6.7MM and the team countered at $4.6MM, Heyman tweets. The club will also have some ground to make up with closer Greg Holland, who filed at $9MM versus a team filing of $6.65MM, per another Heyman tweet.
- Newly-acquired third baseman Josh Donaldson has filed at $5.75MM, while the Blue Jays countered at $4.3MM, Heyman tweets.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Addison Reed | Alejandro De Aza | Arizona Diamondbacks | Aroldis Chapman | Atlanta Braves | Baltimore Orioles | Bud Norris | Casey McGehee | Chicago White Sox | Cincinnati Reds | Daniel Murphy | David Freese | Dexter Fowler | Eric Hosmer | Greg Holland | Houston Astros | Jon Jay | Josh Donaldson | Kansas City Royals | Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim | Mark Trumbo | Mat Latos | Matt Joyce | Miami Marlins | Mike Minor | Neil Walker | New York Mets | Oakland Athletics | Pedro Alvarez | Pittsburgh Pirates | San Francisco Giants | St. Louis Cardinals | Steve Pearce | Tampa Bay Rays | Todd Frazier | Toronto Blue Jays | Tyler Clippard
4:02pm: In addition to discussing catchers, as noted below, Stewart also discussed the club’s payroll and his interest in James Shields with Piecoro. Stewart notes that the addition of Cuban righty Yoan Lopez could push the club to make cost-cutting moves. Lopez received an $8.25MM signing bonus that, after accounting for the penalties incurred due to exceeding their bonus pool, will cost the D-Backs about $16.3MM, Piecoro writes.
Stewart says he isn’t sure how the D-Backs will trim payroll, but they’re currently looking at about $106MM, and he’d like to be under $100MM. “I would like to be (under $100 million),” he tells Piecoro. “I’ve not been told to be, but I would like to be.” One player the club isn’t interested in dealing, according to Piecoro, is Mark Trumbo.
Despite the plainly stated desire to shed payroll, the D-Backs remain interested in Shields, Stewart says. The D-Backs have spoken with agent Page Odle to “work on groundwork,” according to Stewart, who thinks that the team’s old-school mentality will appeal to Shields. “I think James is a throwback guy by the way he goes about his business and the innings he pitches,” says Stewart. “I think the fact that Tony (La Russa) is here and that we have more baseball people — he probably sees us as a true baseball team vs. some of the other teams out here that are geared more toward analytics and those type of things.”
Stewart’s comments are interesting, particularly due to the fact that La Russa said after the departure of former GM Kevin Towers in September that he hoped to “beef up” the club’s usage of advanced metrics (via MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert on Twitter). Additionally, the club hired a new director of analytics just this past November, though they’ve done little else from a baseball operations standpoint to alter their image as a member of baseball’s old guard.
1:59m: GM Dave Stewart says that he has decided not to pursue an upgrade behind the plate, Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports. Instead, the club will rely on the continued development of recent trade acquisition Peter O’Brien while also utilizing some combination of Tuffy Gosewisch and Rule 5 pick Oscar Hernandez.
Piecoro quotes Stewart:
“I’ve decided that I’m not going to pursue another catcher. I talked with my people and my coaching staff. They believe that O’Brien is going to be around sooner than later. If that does happen, there’s no need to go out and get another guy. We would have had to trade somebody we didn’t want to trade to make it happen. We’re going to be patient and allow the progression of O’Brien to take place and stand pat on that.”
O’Brien, 24, came to Arizona in the Martin Prado deal and only had time for four games in his new organization. A bat-first catcher, the question remains whether O’Brien’s glove will be good enough to keep him behind the dish. Piecoro reports that Arizona was impressed with his work in the AFL, and notes that the team has had a chance to watch him over the last few days as well. Of course, it is far from clear that O’Brien will be ready to contribute at the big league level this season, leaving the team with quite a thin group at the position.