Martin Prado Rumors

Stark’s Latest: Lester, Miller, Byrd, Kemp, Danks, Rios

With roughly three days until the non-waiver trade deadline, here are some highlights from the latest Rumblings & Grumblings column by ESPN’s Jayson Stark

  • The Red Sox have contacted every contending team in each league and told them that Jon Lester is available for a two- to three-prospect package fronted by at least one upper-echelon prospect. One executive, however, tells Stark that the Sox simply can’t get as much as the Rays would get if they moved David Price, which isn’t surprising, given Lester’s impending free agency and the remaining year of control that Price has.
  • Lester isn’t the only player being shopped — Boston has firmly planted a “for sale” sign in the ground, and they’re willing to move any impending free agents with the exception of Koji Uehara, whom they hope to re-sign. They’re peddling Andrew Miller, Burke Badenhop, Stephen Drew, Jonny Gomes and Craig Breslow. The price for Miller is also exorbitant at this time, however, as officials from two interested clubs tell Stark that Boston has asked for one of the top prospects plus a lesser prospect.
  • The Giants have asked the Phillies about Marlon Byrd, but their main priority is second base. The Reds are reassessing their stance after losing eight of nine games, and the Royals have backed off of Byrd. The Mariners appears to be the most logical option, but Byrd still wants his $8MM 2016 vesting option guaranteed to approve a trade there.
  • Byrd tells Stark that he’d have to think long and hard if GM Ruben Amaro Jr. came to him and asked him to approve a trade to a team on his no-trade clause. While his hope was to retire a Phillie, he  appreciates how aggressive Amaro was in signing him. “[Ruben] made it easy for me this offseason,” he said. Still, given the odds that he’d want some form of perk to approve a trade, it’s no longer certain that he gets dealt.
  • While the Red Sox and Mariners have been connected to Matt Kemp, officials from other clubs tell Stark they feel an offseason trade is much more likely than an in-season deal.
  • The White Sox have had scouts watching the Yankees‘ surplus of minor league catchers in recent weeks, fueling speculation that the Yanks would like to acquire John Danks.
  • Some officials believe the Yankees would like to find a right-handed hitting platoon partner to pair with Ichiro in Suzuki in right field. New York wants an option that doesn’t have commitments beyond 2014, making names like Justin Ruggiano of the Cubs and Chris Denorfia of the Padres as possible targets. Earlier today it was reported that Denorfia could be moved soon.
  • The Royals have decided that Alex Rios isn’t a good fit for their right field need. Because the team is unable to take on much additional salary (if any), they could wait until August to add a bat.
  • While Troy Tulowitzki‘s name has had a lot of buzz around it, club officials from interested teams tell Stark there’s no indication he is available. Rather, the Rockies are open to moving bullpen arms Adam Ottavino, Rex Brothers, LaTroy Hawkins and Matt Belisle. However, the team would only move Hawkins if they’re overwhelmed. That seems a bit odd, given his age, but Hawkins does have a cheap club option and has drawn praise in Denver for his mentoring of younger talent.
  • The D’Backs are telling clubs that they’d move Addison Reed, but they don’t want to move Brad Ziegler. Arizona is also willing to move Aaron Hill and Oliver Perez. They’ll listen on Martin Prado and Josh Collmenter, although they’re more hesitant to deal them.
  • The chances of Cliff Lee being traded before August are almost nonexistent. Scouts who have seen him don’t think he looks close to healthy, and the money he’s owed is of course problematic.

Nationals Notes: Astros, Hill, Prado, Iglesias

It’s difficult to tell whether the Nationals could be very busy or stand pat before the trade deadine, Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post writes.  It seems like the Nats are at least exploring a number of options, as Kilgore reports…

  • The Nationals have asked the Astros about available relievers, and Houston had scouts watching the Nats’ Triple-A and Class A affiliates over the weekend.  Left-hander Tony Sipp best fits the Nationals’ needs, Kilgore surmises, since Washington is thin on southpaw relief options.
  • The Nationals haven’t talked to the Diamondbacks about Aaron Hill or Martin Prado.  Either player could fill the hole at second base created by Ryan Zimmerman‘s injury (Anthony Rendon moved to third), or Prado could simply play third and Rendon could return to second.  Kilgore isn’t sure the Nats want to pay Hill the $26MM he’s owed through 2016, however, though Hill loved playing for manager Matt Williams when Williams was a D’Backs coach.  Arizona is reportedly shopping Hill but “barely listening” to inquiries about Prado.
  • With Jose Iglesias possibly on the trade block in Detroit, Kilgore thinks the Nats could be interested given the team’s desire to add a young shortstop as depth if Ian Desmond can’t be extended.  The Tigers had a scout watching the Nationals’ Class A team recently, Kilgore notes, though that isn’t necessarily related to Iglesias.
  • Speaking of scouting assignments, the Rangers had an evaluator watching a recent game between the Nationals’ and Braves’ Triple-A teams.  The two NL East rivals are both known to be looking for relief pitching.
  • Washington had scouts watching two recent Red Sox series, and Kilgore figures that they were checking out relievers Koji Uehara and Andrew Miller.  Earlier today, Peter Gammons reported that the Nats were interested in Miller.

Cafardo On Phillies, Iglesias, Prado, Red Sox

The Phillies have a number of major trade chips on their roster, but the perception around baseball is that they’re asking for too much in return, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes in his weekly notes column.  Cafardo recently wrote that Philadelphia wanted three prospects in exchange for Cole Hamels, only to be told by a Phillies official that three was “too conservative” a number.  The Phillies, for their part, say they’re simply looking for “a fair deal” for any of their veteran stars.  Here’s some more from Cafardo’s latest piece…

  • The Tigers are so impressed with Eugenio Suarez‘s play that they could look to trade Jose Iglesias, according to some scouts.  It would definitely be a sell-low move on Iglesias, who seemed to be Detroit’s shortstop of the future before stress fractures in his shins cost him the entire 2014 season.
  • The Red Sox were one of a few teams considering a move for Martin Prado, whose positional versatility and good clubhouse reputation would make a strong trade candidate, though the Diamondbacks have little desire to move him.  The Blue Jays were another team known to be scouting Prado.
  • The Red Sox are facing a 40-man roster crunch with several notable prospects in the offseason, and Cafardo wonders if the club could package some of these youngsters in a trade rather than risk losing them in the Rule 5 draft.
  • One AL scout disagrees with the general belief that the Yankees lack the minor league depth to move any prospects at the deadline.  “They have more in their farm system than people think. They have some arms, they have the Aaron Judge kid, [Luis] Severino, [Gary] Sanchez, [Peter] O’Brien, [Eric] Jagielo. If they wanted to make a deal, they have enough to give up,” the scout said.


D’backs Shopping Aaron Hill, Barely Listening On Martin Prado

While the Diamondbacks are interested in moving second baseman Aaron Hill, they have indicated a lack of motivation in dealing jack-of-all-trades Martin Pradoreports CBSSports.com’s Jon Heyman. According to Heyman, the club is “barely listening” to inquiries on the latter.

Both players are owed approximately the same amount in future guarantees: $28MM for Hill and $26MM for Prado, both through 2016. And both have scuffled at the plate, with Hill slashing .251/.285/.381 and Prado checking in with a .274/.319/.369 line. But the club appears to view Prado, who is two years younger and a more flexible option in the field, as a part of the team’s core moving forward.


NL West Notes: Crawford, Dodgers, Zobrist, D’Backs

We took a look at the Rockies earlier today. Now, let’s check in on the rest of the NL West, which could be shaping up to be a busy division at the deadline:

  • The Dodgers plan to utilize outfielder Carl Crawford off of the bench when he is activated from the DL, reports Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times. For the time being, then, the club seems to have resolved its long-running logjam. “Carl happened to be the one who got hurt,” explained manager Don Mattingly, who said that Crawford is primarily a left-fielder, but that the position was now occupied by Matt Kemp. As Shaikin notes, Crawford still has $69MM remaining on his deal, including the rest of ths season and his annual payments through 2017, and could potentially be shopped in some kind of large contract swap.
  • Meanwhile, the Dodgers would be interested if the Red Sox make their relievers available, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. He lists Koji Uehara, Andrew Miller, Burke Badenhop, and Craig Breslow as players who Boston could conceivably listen on, as the first three are set to become free agents while Breslow had a $4MM club option with a $100K buyout.
  • The Giants may have interest in Rays infielder/outfielder Ben Zobrist, according to a report from Chris Haft and Ryan Hood of MLB.com. The Giants have sent special assignment scout to Pat Burrell to Tropicana Field recently, and the duo adds that the Rays are believed to have scouted San Francisco’s Double-A affiliate extensively.
  • The Diamondbacks entered this season with a $110MM payroll and are believed to be targeting the same number for next season, reports Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. The problem, however, is that the current roster projects to come in around that amount due to arbitration raises and escalating salaries on current long-term deals. As such, the team figures to make trades to shed payroll in the coming weeks. Martin Prado and Aaron Hill are listed by Piecoro as candidates to be dealt.

Steve Adams contributed to this post.


Blue Jays Scouting Aaron Hill, Martin Prado

JULY 5: The Blue Jays appear to favor Prado over Hill because of the former’s positional flexibility (starts at every infield spot plus left field since 2012), tweets Jon Morosi of FOX Sports.

JULY 4: The Blue Jays are “heavily scouting” Diamondbacks infielders Aaron Hill and Martin Prado, as well as Padres third baseman Chase Headley, ESPN’s Jim Bowden reports (Twitter link).  The Jays were known to be interested in Headley, though the two Arizona infielders are new additions to Toronto’s search for help at either second or third base.

The problem with this trio of players, as Bowden observes, is that all three carry large salaries and are in the midst of disappointing seasons.  Headley is owed a little over $5MM for the remainder of the year but is a free agent this winter, whereas Hill and Prado are both under contract through 2016.

Hill is owed approximately $29.3MM over the remaining 2.5 years of his deal and is hitting just .248/.285/.368 with six homers through 337 plate appearances this year.  The last time Hill hit that poorly was during the 2010-11 seasons when he was, ironically, playing for the Jays.  After being dealt to the D’Backs in August 2011, Hill regained his stroke and posted an .860 OPS over 1030 PA in 2012-13.

Prado, meanwhile, is hitting only .268/.313/.360 with three home runs over 351 PA.  He has played mostly at his preferred third base spot this year, though he also has a lot of experience as a left fielder or second baseman.  Prado is owed around $27.3MM through the 2016 season.

Toronto is known to be looking for help at either second or third base, with the idea that Brett Lawrie (when he returns from the DL) will man the other position.  Given Lawrie’s fielding ability at third, Hill would seem like the more natural fit since Prado is much better defensively at third (career 4.4 UZR/150) than at second (-7.9 UZR/150).  It’s possible the Jays might also prefer Hill due to his familiarity with playing on the Rogers Centre turf, though that’s just my speculation.

Edward Creech contributed to this post.


NL Notes: Prado, Johnson, Mattingly, Dodgers

Here are a few notes from around the National League:

  • When the Diamondbacks shipped young outfielder Justin Upton to the Braves, the biggest major league piece they got back was utilityman extraordinaire Martin Prado. Now, with the two clubs in the midst of their first series of the year, Prado has reflected on the deal. As MLB.com's Mark Bowman reports, Prado says he is happy for his former club: “The thing that makes me feel real good is that you know that you got traded and the [Braves] now look better. I’m happy because all of my ex-teammates can see that they gave up something, but actually got a better team. That’s what [Braves general manager Frank Wren] was looking for. He made a good move.” Having spent his entire career in the Atlanta organization, Prado explained that the shock of the trade took more than a month to wear off.
  • While Prado has hit below his career norms to start the year, one of the players he was traded for — third baseman Chris Johnson — is off to a stellar beginning of the season for Atlanta. As David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution tweets, Johnson says he is excited to be squaring off against his former club: "Any time you get traded, you want to come back to the place you got traded from and show them what they're missing." Johnson, along with platoon partner Juan Francisco, effectively took over for Prado as the replacement for the retired Chipper Jones. Now, Johnson is off to a career-best slash line of .324/.355/.486 over his first 110 plate appearances.
  • Dodgers manager Don Mattingly may be the obvious choice to take the fall for his club's rough start, but Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports says there is little to be gained from such a move at this time. For one thing, says Rosenthal, there is no obvious replacement who could get more production from the team. And with several major players seemingly likely to return soon from injury, Mattingly should get a while longer to try and manufacture a turnaround.
  • No doubt Mattingly's job security will depend in part on the form of top offseason acquisition Zack Greinke after he recovers from a broken collarbone. Mattingly says that Greinke will return to the mound tomorrow night against the Nationals, Ken Gurnick of MLB.com reports on Twitter.
  • Meanwhile, Los Angeles is continuing to undertake a major change in how it draws players into the organization, tweets Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times. Shaikin says that the Dodgers have signed 46 amateur ballplayers from Latin America since the new ownership group took over last year. The previous ownership group had "all but killed" the club's Latin America presence, says Shaikin.

NL Notes: Garza, Pirates, Prado, Padres

Here's the latest news and notes from the National League:

  • Matt Garza, number seven on MLBTR's 2014 Free Agent Rankings, is slated for one or two additional minor league rehab starts after an abbreviated outing yesterday, reports MLB.com's Carrie Muskat. Garza threw 66 pitches (40 for strikes) over 3 1/3 innings for Double-A Tennessee allowing three hits and two walks. "He felt great and everything, but not real efficient," Cubs mangager Dale Sveum said. "Right now, we have to get him built up to get to the fourth, fifth and hopefully sixth inning." Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times tweets Garza is expected to throw 85-95 pitches in his next rehab start, which will come next week for Triple-A Iowa.
  • Pirates second baseman Neil Walker is set to return from the disabled list tomorrow and Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review doesn't expect utilityman John McDonald to be designated for assignment to create space on the 25-man roster. McDonald, hitting only .067/.176/.100 in 34 plate appearances this year, would have to clear waivers while infielder Jordy Mercer still has minor league options available. "I think the term general managers use is you want to maintain all of your assets," manager Clint Hurdle said. "You don't want to release somebody if another guy has options. We're mindful of that."
  • Despite a slow start offensively, the Diamondbacks are already seeing dividends from their four-year, $40MM investment in Martin Prado, writes the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Steve Hummer
  • The Padres, who have the 13th overall pick in next month's amateur draft, aren't concerned that the perceived top players will be off the board when it comes their turn, according to Corey Brock of MLB.com. "There's probably more balance [in the Draft] than people give it credit for," said Chad MacDonald, vice president and general manager of player personnel, who will preside over the Padres' draft. "There are a lot of high school hitters out there. I think people are quick to grade a Draft." In addition to their area scouts and cross-checkers, the Padres have had GM Josh Byrnes, vice president/assistant GM AJ Hinch, and senior vice president Omar Minaya in the field scouting players. 

Diamondbacks Notes: Goldschmidt, Hill, Prado

Diamondbacks general manager Kevin Towers revealed this weekend that he approached first baseman Paul Goldschmidt about the possibility of signing a long-term extension. MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert has more on Goldschmidt plus notes on some players who recently signed deals of their own…

  • Though the Diamondbacks were interested in locking Goldschmidt up, they will honor his request to wait before engaging in serious contract talks. "We tried, but he was just confident in his ability at the time and said, 'You know, I'm not looking for security right now and need a little bit more time just to kind of have a better idea with another year of play who my peer group looks more like,'" Towers said. 
  • Earlier on in their history the Diamondbacks signed many players to deals that included deferred salaries. The team has now paid off most of that $250MM commitment, which has led to increased financial flexibility.
  • Arizona managing general partner Ken Kendrick explained that the upcoming national television deal should allow teams such as the Diamondbacks to spend more aggressively and retain their top players. "Our view with some of our key players is we can invest in multiple year deals in advance of the wave of money, where all clubs will begin to perhaps spend more on free agents or on their own players,” Kendrick said.
  • Kendrick said he’s not concerned that Martin Prado and Aaron Hill might decline over the course of their recently-completed contract extensions. "If these guys continue to play at the level that they have played, which we hope they will, then I think we will look at all these signings, hopefully all these signings, as good investments," Kendrick said.

Martin Prado Talks Extension

Martin Prado didn’t expect Frank Wren to call last week, so he was surprised to hear the Braves general manager explain that he’d been traded to Arizona for Justin Upton. But now that he’s had a week to adjust to the chance, Prado says he’s happy to be on board with the Diamondbacks. Yesterday the sides agreed to a four-year, $40MM contract extension, so he can expect to be in Arizona for a while.

“Since I got to the big leagues I’ve been looking to be secure, to be in the right spot and not have to worry about going to free agency” he said on a conference call with reporters yesterday afternoon. “The way I am right now I’m happy.”

Prado’s deal covers his final arbitration season and delays his free agency by three years. The versatile 29-year-old said he has heard good things about the Diamondbacks and was comfortable accepting the deal before playing his first game with the the team. Arizona will use him at third base after sending Chris Johnson to Atlanta in the Upton deal.

The Braves generated considerable excitement with the trade, which places Upton alongside his older brother B.J. in Atlanta’s outfield. While Wren said giving up Prado “was the most difficult part” of the deal, some have said the Diamondbacks didn’t get enough in return. Prado acknowledged that Upton is a “superstar caliber” player and said both teams stand to benefit from the deal. But he certainly doesn’t expect it’ll look lopsided in the future.

"Maybe in a couple of years, people will think a different way," he said.