Marlon Byrd Rumors

Marlon Byrd’s Option Unlikely To Vest

Marlon Byrd is just 15 plate appearances shy of the 550 required for his $8MM option to vest, but it appears that will not happen, writes Alex Pavlovic of CSN Bay Area. Manager Bruce Bochy told the San Francisco media before today’s contest that his plan is to play rookies Mac Williamson and Jarrett Parker as much as possible in the team’s final games.

As Pavlovic notes, the decision comes on the heels of the Dodgers’ clinching of the NL West division championship. Had the Giants remained in the race, he writes, Byrd likely would’ve remained in the lineup and accrued the necessary plate appearances to trigger the option. Instead, Bochy feels it more valuable to rookies Williamson and Parker as well as to the team as a means of assessing the young talent.

General manager Bobby Evans met with Byrd to discuss the decision today, Pavlovic adds, and Bochy himself is also planning a sit-down with the veteran corner outfielder. Despite the fact that Byrd’s option will not vest, Evans conveyed to the 38-year-old that San Francisco would very much like him to return for the 2016 season. Per Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News, Evans offered the following take on Byrd:

“He’s been a great addition to our club and we have interest in bringing him back for next year. When we acquired Marlon, our mindset was to do everything to win, and if we get eliminated, we do what we should do and that’s give our young players a chance to play. Right now, our mindset is to give our young players a chance.”

The Giants acquired Byrd from the Reds roughly six weeks ago, as injuries to both Hunter Pence and Nori Aoki had compromised their outfield depth. In his 147 plate appearances with San Francisco, Byrd has batted a very solid .275/.306/.449 with three homers, 11 doubles and a pair of triples. Overall this season, Byrd has rather pedestrian numbers against right-handed pitching, having batted .238/.279/.436. However, he’s been far more effective when holding the platoon advantage, batting .276/.331/.488 against lefties.

With questionable OBP but solid pop against righties and strong overall production against lefties, Byrd looks the part of at least a platoon outfielder that could occasionally be relied upon for more regular playing time, should injuries necessitate that scenario. The Giants, presumably, would want him back in that capacity as opposed to a starting option. He could, theoretically anyhow, be re-signed at a lower rate and paired with Aoki (whose $5.5MM option seems likely to be exercised) to form a left field platoon, with Pence manning right field.

Baggarly wonders if a two-year deal might be necessary on the Giants’ behalf to make up for the damage done by willfully preventing Byrd’s option from vesting, though, and if that’s the case, I can see San Francisco deeming the price too much. The team could, after all, elect focus its financial resources on upgrading the pitching staff and deploy the right-handed-hitting Williamson in a similar capacity to the one I suggested for Byrd.

Giants Interested In Retaining Marlon Byrd For 2016

The Giants are interested in keeping outfielder Marlon Byrd in 2016, Hank Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle tweets. The Giants have an $8MM club option for Byrd’s services in 2016 as part of the deal he originally signed with the Phillies.

There are, however, other factors at play here. As Jeff Todd noted in his vesting options update from earlier this week, Byrd’s option automatically vests if he gets 550 plate appearances this season. Byrd currently stands at 513 with ten games remaining. If the Giants were to simply let him play every day for the rest of the season, it’s likely his option would vest. With a couple days off, Byrd could come up just short, in which case the Giants would get to make a decision. The Giants’ interest in Byrd suggests they could simply exercise the option even if it doesn’t vest, and that wouldn’t be unreasonable — Byrd is hitting just .250 with a .296 OBP this year, but with 22 home runs and a .456 slugging percentage, he remains useful.

Then again, Byrd is already 38, and it’s also conceivable the Giants could hope to retain him more cheaply than $8MM, especially since the injured Hunter Pence will be back in 2016, pushing Byrd to more of a fourth-outfielder-type role. The Giants will also likely want to spend money on pitching. Since they’re currently are all but out of the playoffs, they could easily defend having Byrd sit a game or two for the rest of the season in order to give an extra start to a September call-up like Jarrett Parker or Mac Williamson. That would likely prevent the option from vesting. Of course, Byrd might then see an attempt to sign him more cheaply as bad faith, which might cause him to sign elsewhere, particularly if he were assured of more playing time.

That sort of maneuvering doesn’t seem typical of the Giants, however. They’re usually loyal to their players, frequently extending or re-signing veterans (including Pence, Tim Lincecum, Sergio Romo, Jake Peavy, Javier Lopez, Ryan Vogelsong, Jeremy Affeldt and Marco Scutaro) shortly before or shortly after they hit free agency. Byrd’s value certainly seems close to $8MM, so if the Giants want to keep him, they seem likely to try to do so in such a way that his impending option situation doesn’t cause strife. Nonetheless, it will be interesting to watch the box scores for the rest of the season to see how much Byrd plays.

Vesting Options Update

With the regular season nearing its end, we have some clarity on several vesting clauses around the game. Let’s take a look at where things stand …

  • Chase Utley, Dodgers: There’s no chance that Utley’s $15MM option — the first of three in succession — will vest. (He’d need 110 plate appearances over the final two weeks of the season to reach 500.) Instead, Utley will become subject to a team option — the value of which floats between $5MM and $11MM based upon days spent on the DL. The precise details have yet to be reported, so it’s not yet clear how much it would cost Los Angeles to control the veteran. Neither is it known whether the team would have interest; Utley has a mediocre .200/.296/.347 slash over 108 plate appearances with the Dodgers.
  • Jonathan Papelbon, Nationals: This one was taken care of as part of the deal that sent Papelbon to D.C. from the Phillies. Papelbon helped facilitate the swap by agreeing to take $11MM to throw next year for the Nats. He was already likely to reach the requirements for his option to vest at $13MM, but that agreement greased the wheels on a move he desperately wanted and removed any doubt as to his payday.
  • David Ortiz, Red Sox: Big Papi has blown well past the 425 plate appearances he needed for his 2016 option to vest, though he’ll also need to pass an offseason physical. The question now is the value of the option. It has already reached $15MM, but would go higher if he makes his 600th trip to the dish. In that case, it will go to $16MM (or, if it’s more than that, the value of the qualifying offer). Ortiz has earned it, with another huge season and successful run at 500 career home runs.
  • Joaquin Benoit, Padres: Benoit needed to finish 55 games for to his $8MM option to vest. That can’t happen, so it’ll turn into a team option. It’s a fair sum for a reliever, but Benoit continues to put up strong results at 38 years of age.
  • Marlon Byrd, Giants: The 38-year-old sits at 502 plate appearances. He needs 48 more the rest of the way to reach 550 total, which, in combination with those accumulated last year, would be sufficient for his $8MM option to vest for 2016. With 13 games left, it’s still possible that he could reach the needed total, but that’ll depend heavily on playing time — and San Francisco may well not wish to be on the hook for that kind of cash.
  • Santiago Casilla, Giants: As MLBTR reported, Casilla needs 55 games finished for his $7.5MM option to vest for 2016. The situation is somewhat similar to Byrd’s. With 49 finished games in the bank so far, it’s still possible — but, perhaps, unlikely — for Casilla to reach the necessary tally.
  • Nori Aoki, Giants: Due to injuries, the outfielder is stalled well shy of the 550 plate appearances he needed to turn a $5.5MM club option into one of the mutual variety. That could still be an appealing price tag for a player who performed well when healthy.
  • Jonny Gomes, Royals: Gomes needs 325 plate appearances for a $3MM club option for 2016 to become guaranteed. He only has 246, and hasn’t been used much in Kansas City, so that’s not happening.

We already know that Cliff Lee won’t achieve the innings totals required for his 2016 option to vest, as the Phillies southpaw hasn’t pitched all season and is attempting to recover from a torn left flexor tendon without undergoing surgery.  Brandon League also hasn’t pitched this season and has been released by the Dodgers, so he won’t reach the games-finished total required to allow his 2016 player option to vest.

NL Central Notes: Martinez, Byrd, Heyward, Lucroy

The Reds did indeed scout top Cuban outfield prospect Eddy Julio Martinez, tweets John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer, but they’re not likely to sign the 20-year-old, he adds. The Reds aren’t interested in incurring maximum penalties for exceeding their international bonus pool, which they’d almost certainly need to do in order to sign Martinez. The team that signs Martinez will likely have to pay a 100 percent luxury tax for every dollar spent over their allotted pool, and they’ll also be restricted from signing future international prospects for more than $300K in each of the next two signing periods. That, of course, hasn’t deterred some clubs from spending big, but it perhaps makes it more likely that we’ll see Martinez land with a team that has already exceeded its bonus pool by a substantial margin. Interestingly, though, Fay hears that the price tag may have dropped below the previous $10MM+ expectations (Twitter link).

Here’s more from the NL Central…

  • Prior to being traded to the Giants, Marlon Byrd had somewhat of a “spat” with Reds bench coach Jay Bell, writes Fay in a separate column. Per Fay, Byrd became upset after Bell asked him to pinch-hit in the bottom of the eighth inning the day before he was traded, but he then sent Brayan Pena into the on-deck circle instead. Byrd ultimately wound up pinch-hitting, but only after a discussion with manager Bryan Price. “I didn’t get in a spat with Jay Bell,” said Byrd. “I had a conversation with the manager about Jay Bell. We had conversations all year about him. If you want to know more about that, you’d have to talk to him.” Byrd was traded to the Giants the next day, though he said he left on good terms with the his teammates and had generally positive things to say about the Reds in the conversation with Fay and other reporters.
  • Bernie Miklasz of 101 ESPN breaks down Jason Heyward‘s free agent stock, adding that he expects the Cardinals to make a push to retain their right fielder. Though the outfield looks crowded in the short-term, Matt Holliday‘s contract is up after 2016, as is Jon Jay‘s. As such, the team could boast a future outfield of Stephen Piscotty, Randal Grichuk and Heyward. While traditional numbers — homers, RBIs, batting average — don’t tell the full tale of Heyward’s value, Miklasz notes that more analytically inclined teams will be willing to make a big play for the 26-year-old. The Cardinals, Miklasz writes, prefer a higher annual value on a shorter-term deal than the risk of a nine- or 10-year pact, and they may even be open to including an opt-out clause, though that final point appears to be speculative in nature.
  • Though they’re division rivals, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny had no issues giving Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy some advice on how to handle the concussion symptoms with which he is currently dealing, writes the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel’s Todd Rosiak. Matheny, whose playing career ended due to a long history of concussions, recommended a specialist for Lucroy to see and urged him to take his time, noting points in his career where he believes he may have suffered a concussion then returned to the field the very next day, only to take another foul ball to the mask.  “[Matheny] said it was not worth a repeat hit when you’re not healed up, because that’s when things get really, really bad in terms of not being able to drive, not being able to look at lights, throwing up and nausea and stuff like that,” said Lucroy. “He really stressed, ‘Take your time.'” Dr. Micky Collins has told Lucroy that he can make a full recovery from what has been diagnosed as a vestibular concussion — or one that impacts his coordination and movement.

Giants Acquire Marlon Byrd

3:40pm: Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that Byrd had cleared waivers as opposed to being claimed by the Giants (Twitter link).

3:25pm: The Giants announced that they have acquired veteran outfielder Marlon Byrd and cash considerations from the Reds in exchange for Double-A right-hander Stephen Johnson.

Marlon Byrd

The addition of Byrd will provide the Giants with some desperately needed outfield depth, as their starting outfield has been ravaged by injuries his year. While Nori Aoki is slated to return from a concussion today, starting center fielder Angel Pagan and starting right fielder Hunter Pence are both on the disabled list. Byrd, presumably, will see time in one of the outfield corners (he’s played left field this year but has recent experience in right field as well), with Aoki manning the other spot.

Byrd, 37, suffered a small fracture in his wrist in early June but made a somewhat surprisingly quick return from the disabled list, returning to action less than three weeks later. Even more surprising than his quick return is the absence of ill effects that he’s shown from a wrist injury; Byrd homered in his first game back from the DL and is slashing .258/.286/.454 with nine homers in 203 plate appearances since being activated. While that OBP obviously leaves something to be desired, he’s shown plenty of pop and managed to hit for a respectable average. He should serve as a relatively productive piece in the middle of the Giants’ ailing lineup, and he could either slide down the order or serve as a nice bench piece down the line once everyone is healthy.

Byrd is earning $8MM this season as part of a two-year, $16MM contract originally signed with the Phillies. Philadelphia picked up $4MM of the tab when he was traded to the Reds in the first place, so there’s only about $1MM remaining for the Giants and Reds to worry about. Byrd is 172 plate appearances shy of triggering an $8MM vesting option for the 2016 season. He’d need to average 3.85 plate appearances per game over the Giants’ remaining 42 contests to reach the 550 plate appearances he needs, which is an attainable rate if he plays every day. Of course, he won’t be with the team for tonight’s game (he’ll join them Friday), and the Giants, though certainly justify benching Byrd against right-handed pitching once everyone is healthy. He’s slashed just .224/.268/.433 against righties this year compared to .280/.344/.500 versus left-handed pitching.

San Francisco selected Johnson, now 24 years old, in the sixth round of the 2012 draft. Baseball America ranked him as the Giants’ No. 21 and 28 prospect following the 2012 and 2013 seasons, but he’s dropped off their Top 30 since and didn’t make’s midseason Top 30 for the Giants, either. Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs mentioned him in his preseason look at the Giants’ prospects, noting that he hit 100 mph with Division-II St. Edwards College (TX) but has settled into the mid-90s. He’ll flash an above-average curve at times, but he has some command and delivery issues. McDaniel (Twitter link) and BA’s John Manuel (Twitter link) both offered similar takes to that report in the minutes following the trade. Reds GM Walt Jocketty said (via the Cincinnati Enquirer’s John Fay, on Twitter) that Johnson has a “big arm” and the organization projects him as a reliever. He’ll go  Cincinnati’s Double-A affiliate. Johnson had a 3.41 ERA with 10.6 K/9 against 4.5 BB/9 in 58 innings for the Giants’ Double-A affiliate his year.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Heyman On Padres, Tigers, Cubs, Phillies, Orioles, Sox, Reds, Marlins, Yankees

The real question facing the Padres at present is not whether to buy or sell, but how far to go in moving pieces, writes Jon Heyman of At least one rival GM expects the club to “sell big,” and Heyman says that San Diego is “offering around” closer Craig Kimbrel and starter James Shields, both of whom are under long-term control. While the former would figure to have a wide market, potentially including the Blue Jays, Nationals, and Dodgers, another GM says that he believes the club would have to chip in cash to move Shields. That may indicate that he could become an August trade piece, Heyman suggests, because he could well clear waivers. San Diego is interested in adding a young shortstop, he goes on to note, and has looked at several of the Brewers options (Jean Segura, Luis Sardinas, and top prospect Orlando Arcia).

Here are more highlights from the column:

  • Heyman hears that the Tigers are still weighing their options, too, and have not decided to sell. The club could even add an arm, he says, and is likely to see how its next two series play out before reaching a final conclusion.
  • While the Cubs are indeed willing to consider including Starlin Castro or Javier Baez in a deal for Cole Hamels of the Phillies, a source tells Heyman that the team would not be interested in moving both to add the lefty. Philadelphia’s plans for Hamels remain something of a mystery, but per the report the club may be backing down from its previous high-end demands from clubs like the Dodgers (Corey Seager or Julio Urias) and Red Sox (Mookie Betts or Blake Swihart).
  • There is now virtually no chance that Phillies lefty Cliff Lee will try to make it back this year, and he appears likely to retire over the winter.
  • As they approach the deadline and look ahead to free agency, the Cubs have some limitations on their spending capacity but will nevertheless try to add David Price (at least once he hits the open market). Meanwhile, the team has at least some interest in Reds starter Mike Leake as a trade piece but are somewhat hesitant to pursue rental options. While the Giants have plenty of rotation options, they too have considered Leake.
  • While we’ve just heard a suggestion that the Orioles could reverse course, Heyman says that they are still weighing outfield additions. The team has considered rental pieces like Marlon Byrd, Gerardo Parra, and Justin Upton. And he suggests that Carl Crawford or Shane Victorino could make sense as well; presumably, Baltimore would only be interested in either if their current clubs paid down a good bit of salary.
  • The Orioles intend to make qualifying offers after the season not only to Matt Wieters and Chris Davis, but also to lefty Wei-Yin Chen. The 30-year-old never seemed like a qualifying offer-level player, but was strong last year and has put up even better results in 2015 (while significantly outperforming his peripherals, it should be noted).
  • The Red Sox have received no trade interest in struggling first baseman Mike Napoli, says Heyman, but has gotten hits on Victorino as well as bullpen arms Koji Uehara and Junichi Tazawa.
  • The White Sox are looking to add some volume if they deal righty Jeff Samardzija, says Heyman. Chicago would like to pick up four young pieces in any trade.
  • While the Marlins have fielded interest in righty Tom Koehler and super utilityman Martin Prado, the club is not interested in dealing either player at present. Meanwhile, Miami is open to dealing veteran Dan Haren, but has rebuffed at least one club that asked for money to be sent along with him.
  • The Yankees are looking at both second base and top rotation candidates, says Heyman, but don’t feel a pressing need to add in either area. New York has no interest in veteran Diamondbacks infielder Aaron Hill, he adds.
  • Be sure to check out the rest of the piece for more notes on many of the teams around the league.

Heyman On Cueto, Uribe, Wilson, Brewers, Niese, Pirates, Gallardo

In his latest notes column, Jon Heyman of addressed a number of interesting deadline issues, starting with Reds starter Johnny Cueto. There have been suggestions over concern among buyers with the health of the star righty, but Heyman cites one scout from a team with interest who tells him that Cueto “looks fine.” As far as interest, Heyman pegs the Blue Jays, Royals, Yankees, Dodgers, and Astros as “the most likely and logical landing spots.”

Here are some other highlights from an info-packed piece (which you’ll want to read in full for even more notes):

  • The Braves are shopping the recently-acquired Juan Uribe, says Heyman, with the asking price of a “mid-range prospect” and full unloading of the approximately $3MM left on Uribe’s deal. Atlanta has had communications with at least the Mets, per the repor.
  • While the Orioles had been looking at adding a starter, Heyman reports that the team now may instead be prioritizing bats. Though the report doesn’t specify a position, we’ve heard in the past that Baltimore had interest in adding to its corner outfield mix.
  • Heyman writes that it’ll be interesting to see if Angels lefty C.J. Wilson becomes “even more available” now that Jerry Dipoto has resigned as the general manager. Per Heyman, Wilson was close with Dipoto, and the Wilson signing (five years, $77.5MM) was the one significant free agent pickup that Dipoto was actually responsible for. Angels owner Arte Moreno was behind the Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton signings, as many other reports have indicated over the years.
  • The Brewers are officially open for business and “may be considering a rather big sale,” one competing team exec tells Heyman. Interest in Jean Segura is down due to his poor play since an early 2013 breakout, but Gerardo Parra‘s big year has lots of clubs asking about him. Mike Fiers, Wily Peralta and Francisco Rodriguez are drawing interest, and the Brewers are open to packaging some of those players to improve the return.
  • The Jon Niese saga continues, as Heyman hears that the lefty now doesn’t seem particularly available, with one Mets person telling Heyman that Niese never really was. In other Mets news, Heyman hears that the team floated the idea of a Rafael Montero-for-Ben Zobrist swap when Montero was still healthy, but Montero, of course, has since been injured. The Mets have also talked about Uribe, but there are other names higher on their list.
  • While some have connected the Pirates to Ben Revere and Jeff Francoeur, the Bucs might be aiming a bit higher, looking at Marlon Byrd of the Reds and Aramis Ramirez of the Brewers — both former Pirates. Heyman lists Ben Zobrist as a target for the Bucs as well. Earlier today the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Bill Brink linked Pittsburgh to Zobrist, Cliff Pennington and Clint Barmes.
  • Yovani Gallardo could hit the trade market if the Rangers end up selling short-term pieces, and he’s not interested in springing for an early extension with his hometown team. Agent Bobby Witt has apparently told the Rangers that Gallardo is looking forward to testing the free agent market.

NL Central Notes: Reds, Parra, Soriano, Alvarez

The Reds have opened the doors on a fire sale, writes John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer. Todd Frazier will stay put. Billy Hamilton probably isn’t going anywhere. Most others are probably on the table. Fay expects at least four players to be traded, presumably Johnny Cueto, Mike Leake, Aroldis Chapman, and Marlon Byrd as a starting point. Others like Brandon Phillips, Jay Bruce, and Skip Schumaker are also expected to be shopped. The Reds are seven games below .500 and 15.5 games back in the NL Central. It’s probably too late for a rebound.

Here’s more news out of the NL Central:

  • Gerardo Parra‘s strong play has all but ensured that he’ll be traded by the Brewers, writes Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Parra is in the midst of a career season, hitting .311/.345/.502 with nine home runs and six stolen bases. Known for fantastic defense, he’s actually struggled this year per Ultimate Zone Rating (-9.8 UZR). Still, plenty of playoff teams have need of a high average, left-handed outfielder.
  • Cubs manager Joe Maddon said reliever Rafael Soriano might be “up sooner than planned,” tweets Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune. Soriano was signed on June 12. He has a career 2.85 ERA and 207 saves in 630 innings. The Cubs have manufactured a pseudo-closer battle. They demoted Hector Rondon from the role earlier in the summer despite solid production. The club also recently called up Neil Ramirez – another candidate for saves.
  • The Pirates would probably like to de-emphasize Pedro Alvarez, reports Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. The former third baseman has continued his defensive ineptitude at first base with 15 errors. He’s also offered a .233/.299/.424 slash which is well below average for a first baseman. Unfortunately, the Pirates will have to look outside of the organization to move beyond Alvarez. Adam Lind is probably the most notable first baseman on the trade market. If the Pirates get creative, they could also try a three-team swap for Jon Singleton. Typically, Pittsburgh will look for fringier options like Chris Parmelee. We heard earlier this evening that the Orioles may soon designate Parmelee for assignment.

Heyman’s Latest: Dodgers/Hamels, Braves, Frazier, Price, Brewers, Upton

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports kicks off his weekly Inside Baseball column by reporting that the Dodgers have “quietly continued having dialogue with the Phillies” regarding Cole Hamels. The Dodgers are also giving serious consideration to the rental market and prioritizing Johnny Cueto over others among such targets. The Dodgers “appear determined” to land a top-of-the-rotation arm to pair with Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke, writes Heyman, but most executives think they’ll hold onto top prospects Corey Seager and Julio Urias. The Dodgers have a deep farm system beyond that pairing (righty Jose De Leon has recently been ranked a Top 25 prospect by Baseball America and ESPN), and one exec tells Heyman that the Phillies’ asking price on Hamels has become “more reasonable” recently. The Dodgers feel that Greinke is a lock to opt out of his contract at the end of the season, and while they could possibly re-sign him by adding a year or two to the deal and upping his $24.5MM AAV, Hamels would provide insurance should Greinke sign elsewhere. Jeff Samardzija is also a consideration for the Dodgers, but while they like him, they consider him more of a No. 2/3 starter and don’t love him.

Some more highlights from Heyman’s article, though the synopsis won’t cover everything within the piece, so I’d highly recommend reading it in its entirety…

  • The Braves will be deadline sellers, Heyman hears, with Jim Johnson, Juan Uribe and Cameron Maybin among the players that will be available to interested teams. Chris Johnson, too, continues to be available, but there are no takers for his contract, which Atlanta has aggressively tried to move in the past.
  • With the Reds expected to trade so many veterans to other clubs, many in the industry expect the team to make a run at extending Todd Frazier beyond his current two-year deal, Heyman writes. (Frazier has one more year of arbitration following his current pact.) Jeff Todd and I have discussed Frazier’s situation on the MLBTR Podcast in the past (and will do so again this afternoon), and I’ve personally taken the stance that given the significant commitments to Joey Votto and Homer Bailey, the Reds could have a difficult time affording Frazier, whose 2014-15 breakout has hugely inflated his price tag. Given the lack of impact bats on the trade market, Frazier would net a king’s ransom and could rapidly expedite the rebuilding process, though the PR hit of trading him with so much control and on the heels of a Home Run Derby victory would of course be significant.
  • In other Reds news, Heyman hears Mike Leake‘s ground-ball tendencies are appealing to AL East clubs, and he’s drawn interest from the Blue Jays, Orioles and Red Sox in addition to the Royals, Dodgers, Rangers, Cubs and Giants. Manny Parra and Marlon Byrd are both “likely to go” as well.
  • Asked about the possibility of signing with the Cubs this offseason due to his relationship with skipper Joe Maddon, Tigers ace David Price replied, “Wherever I play baseball next year it’s not going to be because of a manager.”
  • The Astros are interested in both Cueto and Leake, and Houston seems willing to deal from its glut of MLB-ready outfield prospects, including Domingo Santana and Preston Tucker. (Previous reports have indicated they’re reluctant to part with Brett Phillips, however, who may be the best among the outfield bunch.)
  • The Brewers are now showing a willingness to trade both Carlos Gomez and Jean Segura, Heyman hears. Though it was previously believed they were reluctant to move Segura, the emergence of Orlando Arcia (the younger brother of the Twins’ Oswaldo Arcia) may have changed Milwaukee’s thinking. However, Arcia himself is also drawing a huge amount of trade interest, and the Padres have called to express interest. One NL exec called him the best player he’s seen in the minors this year, while another comped him to Francisco Lindor, but said Arcia is better. Regarding Segura, Heyman hears that the Mets dislike his free-swinging approach.
  • The Twins aren’t closed off to the idea of re-acquiring Gomez from the Brewers, but their primary focus at this point is bullpen help.
  • The Mets are aiming high in their pursuit of an outfield bat and have both Gomez and Justin Upton on their radar. They’re not likely to add Aramis Ramirez from the Brewers unless they receive bad news on the prognosis of David Wright. They also have little interest in swinging a deal for Uribe.
  • Padres officials insist that they haven’t determined their course of action heading into the deadline, but Heyman writes that free-agents-to-be such as Upton, Ian Kennedy, Joaquin Benoit and Will Venable could be traded regardless. James Shields‘ backloaded contract limits his value, but one GM felt Benoit has “big value” and Heyman notes that Craig Kimbrel would be in huge demand as well, should the Padres try to recoup some value from that deal.
  • Cueto, Samardzija and Leake are atop the Blue Jays‘ wish list, and the team was also in talks with the Braves regarding Jason Grilli prior to his season-ending injury. A top starting pitcher is Toronto’s top priority at this point, says Heyman. He also adds that there’s no evidence to suggest that manager John Gibbons is on the hot seat.

2016 Vesting Options Midseason Update

Several notable players could see their 2016 statuses change depending on whether or not they unlock vesting options in their current contracts.  As we enter the All-Star break, let’s check in on the progress each of these players are making towards those getting those options to vest.  All stats are current heading into today’s action…

  • Chase Utley: The veteran second baseman has a $15MM vesting option for 2016 that becomes guaranteed if he makes 500 plate appearances.  (If he doesn’t, it becomes a team option worth between $5MM-$11MM depending on how much time Utley spends on the DL, with a $2MM buyout.)  Utley, of course, is on the DL right now recovering from an ankle injury and will be out until late July or early August.  Phillies GM Ruben Amaro has openly stated that Cesar Hernandez has earned the everyday second base job, leaving Utley’s playing time in question for the remainder of the season.  Utley is suffering through by far the worst season of his 13-year career with only a .179/.257/.275 slash line and four homers through his 249 plate appearances.  If Utley isn’t back until early August, he’d be hard-pressed to reach 500 PA even in the increasingly unlikely event that he plays every day.
  • Jonathan Papelbon: This Phillie‘s march towards his vesting option is going much more smoothly.  His $13MM option for 2016 vests if he either finishes 55 games this year, or finishes 100 games combined between the 2014 and 2015 seasons.  Papelbon finished 52 games last year and has 29 finishes this season, so collecting those last 19 finishes over roughly two and a half months shouldn’t be difficult for the closer if he stays healthy.  There’s a chance Papelbon could ask for his option to be guaranteed to facilitate a trade, yet he sounds so eager to get out of Philadelphia and pitch for a contender that he may not bother and instead bet on himself to finish those 19 games.
  • David Ortiz: Big Papi has 340 plate appearances, making him a virtual lock to reach the 425 PA he’ll need (plus passing an offseason physical) for his 2016 option to vest.  Ortiz will earn at least $11MM in 2016, plus more depending on how many PA past the 425-mark he ends up recording this season.
  • Joaquin Benoit: With only seven games finished, Benoit has no shot at the 55 games finished he’s need to turn the Padres‘ $8MM club option into a guarantee for 2016.
  • Marlon Byrd: If Byrd has 600 PA this season, or at least 550 PA this season and 1100 PA total between 2014-15, the $8MM club option on his 2016 services will become guaranteed.  A DL stint limited Byrd to 262 PA thus far, so it’ll be difficult for Byrd to reach the 550 PA mark unless he stays healthy and the Reds play him virtually every day.
  • Santiago Casilla: The Giants righty signed a three-year, $15MM deal in the 2012-13 offseason that contained a vesting option. MLBTR has learned that Casilla’s 2016 option will vest at $6.5MM with 55 games finished during the 2015 season. Casilla’s option could have vested at $7.5MM with 100 games finished between the 2014-15 seasons, including 55 in 2015. The option could also have vested at $8.5MM with 150 games finished from 2013-15, including 55 finished in 2015.
  • Nori Aoki: The outfielder was one of the league leaders in plate appearances when he fractured his right fibula, so he already has 291 of the 550 PA he needs to turn the Giants‘ $5.5MM option for 2016 into a mutual option.  If Aoki returns around July 24 (as Bruce Bochy estimates) and resumes his everyday spot atop San Francisco’s lineup, he stands a good chance of reaching the vesting point.
  • Jonny Gomes: If Gomes receives 325 PA, his $3MM option for 2016 will become guaranteed.  He’s just over halfway there with 166 plate appearances, so this one may come right down to the wire.

We already know that Cliff Lee won’t achieve the innings totals required for his 2016 option to vest, as the Phillies southpaw hasn’t pitched all season and is attempting to recover from a torn left flexor tendon without undergoing surgery.  Brandon League also hasn’t pitched this season and has been released by the Dodgers, so he won’t reach the games-finished total required to allow his 2016 player option to vest.