Mat Latos Rumors


Platform Years For First-Time Eligible Starters

Clayton Kershaw's salary jumped from $500K to $7.5MM this year, and it wasn't just because of his Cy Young performance. Kershaw qualified for arbitration for the first time in his career over the winter, so he obtained the right to establish his salary by comparing his production to that of his peers.

James McDonald (Pirates) - PW

Though $7MM raises are reserved for elite performers like Kershaw, many first-time eligible starting pitchers will see their salaries rise from $500K or so to $2-4.5MM this coming offseason. A player’s case depends in large part on his career numbers, but his most recent season, or platform year, matters a great deal. 

Advanced statistics like xFIP, wins above replacement and swinging strike rate don't generally figure in to arbitration cases. Instead, traditional stats such as innings, starts, wins and ERA determine players' salaries.

With one third of the season now complete, let’s check in on the prominent starting pitchers on track to be first-time arbitration eligible this coming offseason:

Arb 1 Pitchers for 2012-13

Injuries have limited Jhoulys Chacin, Doug Fister, Marco Estrada, Chris Narveson and Neftali Feliz. All of these pitchers are on the disabled list, none of them are on pace to complete 150 innings, and three of them -- Estrada, Fister and Chacin -- remain winless.

Phil Humber and Tommy Hunter have stayed healthy, but they’re off to disappointing starts that include losing records and ERAs above 5.50. The homer-prone Hunter is pitching at Triple-A, and could soon be recalled. The collective bargaining recognizes special accomplishments, and Humber's perfect game definitely qualifies, so his representatives at Moye Sports Associates could play it up should the sides go to a hearing. Yet there's no clear conversion rate in place to help value Humber's perfecto.

Brian Matusz and Ross Detwiler both spent considerable time in the minor leagues last year, but they've responded with solid seasons to date. Both will head to arbitration with losing records, however, and Matusz's career ERA sits at 5.32.

Bud Norris, Ian Kennedy, Tommy Hanson, Mat Latos and, to a lesser extent, Mike Leake all entered the season with the bulk innings totals that often lead to generous salaries in arbitration. All five pitchers continue piling up innings, though Leake, Latos and Norris have ERAs above 4.50. The pitchers in this group figure to be compared against one another over and over this coming winter.

Former top prospects Jeff Samardzija and James McDonald (pictured) are enjoying breakout seasons. Both right-handers have career-best walk rates and are averaging one strikeout per inning. If they can keep this up -- or at least come reasonably close to doing so -- their paychecks will reflect the improvements in 2013 and beyond. Unfortunately for Samardzija, starters Rick Porcello and David Price didn't seem to be able to use their generous pre-arbitration salaries to boost their arbitration earnings this past offseason, so his current $2.64MM salary probably won't help much.

It's early enough for the fortunes of these pitchers to change dramatically. Feliz could return to the bullpen, Fister could replicate last year's second half success, or Samardzija could regress. But, ten-plus starts into the season, these pitchers' platform seasons have started taking shape.

Photo courtesy of US Presswire. Stats via Baseball-Reference.com. Note that Derek Holland and Jonathon Niese signed extensions covering what would have been their first arb years. Madison Bumgarner, Stephen Strasburg and Daniel Hudson are expected to fall just shy of super two eligibility, though that's not official.



Poll: Best Trade Package For A Young Pitcher

When the offseason started, we figured it would be headlined by a pair of MVP caliber bats (Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder) and a Japanese import (Yu Darvish). While those three certainly garnered their fair share of attention, the winter was mostly dominated by trades involving young, high-upside pitchers with multiple years of team control remaining.

The Doug Fister trade seemed to get it all started. The Mariners sent him and David Pauley to the Tigers for Francisco Martinez, Casper Wells, Charlie Furbush, and Chance Ruffin at the trade deadline. Four similar young, high-upside starters with multiple years of contractual control remaining were traded this offseason. Here are those deals, presented chronologically...

Each trade involved multiple young players going the other way, including at least one top 100 prospect according to Baseball America. Which team got the best return for their young hurler?



Royals Eyeing Young Starters

Some young starting pitchers appeal to the Royals as possible trade candidates, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter links). The Royals had interest in Mat Latos before the Padres sent him to Cincinnati and they still like Gio Gonzalez, the highly-coveted A’s left-hander.

However, the Royals don't want to part with outfield prospect Wil Myers or left-hander Mike Montgomery in any deal, Rosenthal reports. The Royals like the potential that young starters like Montgomery provide and believe Myers has the potential to hit in the middle of the order in the Major Leagues.

Royals GM Dayton Moore traded for Jonathan Sanchez and re-signed Bruce Chen earlier this offseason. The two southpaws join right-handers Luke Hochevar and Felipe Paulino in the team's projected 2012 rotation. Danny Duffy, Aaron Crow and Everett Teaford are also candidates to start for manager Ned Yost.



AL East Rumors: Latos, Blue Jays, Rays, Red Sox

The latest out of the AL East:

  • Peter Gammons of MLB Network tweets that the Blue Jays "went to the end" on Mat Latos, though the Reds ultimately won out. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports also hears Toronto was a finalist on Latos, though he doesn't know the details of their offer (Twitter links). The Jays are one team that could have comfortably matched the quantity and quality of the prospects Cincinnati sent to San Diego.
  • While the Rays would ideally like to add another reliever with high-leverage experience, GM Andrew Friedman tells Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times he's comfortable with the bullpen arms he has now.
  • The Red Sox probably aren't done making moves, though they don't seem inclined to make a big splash such as a Gio Gonzalez trade, writes Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald.



Reactions To The Mat Latos Trade

Earlier today, the Reds pulled the trigger on a major deal as they shipped Yonder Alonso, Edinson Volquez, Yasmani Grandal, and Brad Boxberger to the Padres for right-hander Mat Latos.  Here's a look at some reactions to the trade from around baseball and a look at how it will impact both clubs..

  • Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports likes the deal for both sides and argues that it takes a quality package of talent to land a 24-year-old potential No. 1 starter.   When looking at all of the pitchers available on the trade market, including Gio Gonzalez, Matt Garza, Wade Davis, and Jair Jurrjens, Latos possesses the most upside.
  • If the Reds make the playoffs in 2012 and/or in '13, in a weak division, and Latos helps, this trade will have served its purpose for the club, tweets Buster Olney of ESPN.com.
  • One source told Dan Hayes of the North County Times (via Twitter) that the club had "a ton" of concern about Mat Latos' maturity issues.  Latos turned 24 years old last week.
  • The first rival evaluator Olney (via Twitter) spoke with loved the trade for the Padres.  That same evaluator raised concerns about how Latos grows mentally as a pitcher and thinks that his fastball command is the big question mark for him (Twitter link).
  • The Rockies were briefly in the mix for Volquez this week before he was traded to San Diego, tweets Troy Renck of The Denver Post.
  • Even though it's fair to say that Alonso and Grandal were blocked by Joey Votto and Devin Mesoraco, respectively, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (via Twitter) still feels that the Reds gave up a lot to land Latos.
  • After watching Latos pitch in 2010, John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer (via Twitter) could not have imagined the Padres dealing the talented pitcher.  However, Latos' 2011 wasn't quite as impressive.
  • More from Olney (via Twitter) who thinks the Reds would have been better off dealing Votto for a huge haul of prospects and plugging Alonso in at first base.  However, the Reds want to try to keep Votto and view him as their own Albert Pujols (Twitter link).  Rival executives don't see how they'll be able to hang on to Votto while keeping their payroll under control.
  • The Padres view Boxberger as someone who can eventually be a potential closer, tweets Scott Miller of CBSSports.com.  Baseball America ranked the 23-year-old as the 10th best prospect in the Reds' farm system.



Byrnes On Latos, Alonso, Rizzo, Surplus

Some highlights from Josh Byrnes' conference call this afternoon..

  • Padres GM Josh Byrnes said four teams had the right package of young players to make a run at Mat Latos, tweets Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com.  Ultimately, he said, the Padres winnowed it to two teams before deciding on the Reds.
  • Byrnes said that the Padres view Yonder Alonso as a first base candidate and not as a left fielder, Crasnick tweets.  Right now, it appears that Alonso and Jesus Guzman will duke it out for the job in Spring Training (Twitter link).
  • For the time being, it seems that the Padres' current plan is to slot Alonso in at first and have Rizzo go back to Triple-A, tweets Crasnick.  Byrnes admits that the deal will probably be a tough pill to swallow for Anthony Rizzo, tweets Scott Miller of CBSSports.com.
  • The Padres GM says that he won't rule out another trade, but he is comfortable with his team's surplus of offensive players, Crasnick writes (via Twitter).
  • Newcomer Yasmani Grandal will be given more time in the minors, tweets Crasnick.  Byrnes referred to Nick Hundley as the club's "No. 1 guy" and a key part of the team.
For the time being, it seems that the Padres' current plan is to slot Alonso in at first and have Rizzo go back to Triple-A, tweets Crasnick



Reds Acquire Latos For Alonso, Grandal, Volquez

The Reds wanted to boost their rotation this winter and the club wasn't afraid to part with a great deal of talent in order to get their man in Mat Latos.  The Reds acquired Latos from the Padres this afternoon for Yonder Alonso, Edinson Volquez, Yasmani Grandal, and Brad Boxberger.

Latos turned 24 just over a week ago, but already has more than two full seasons under his belt.  From 2010-11, the right-hander accumulated a 3.21 ERA, 8.9 K/9, 2.7 BB/9, and a 43.7% groundball rate.  Both FIP (3.09) and SIERA (3.33) like Latos quite a bit, and he's not arbitration eligible until after the 2012 season.  The promising young hurler will pair with Johnny Cueto atop the Reds' rotation.

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Alonso, who turns 25 early next season, turned heads with an explosive showing toward the tail end of 2011. He hit .330/.398/.545 down the stretch, albeit in a small sample size of 98 plate appearances. The Reds took Alonso seventh overall in the 2008 draft, and he's ranked in Baseball America's Top 100 Prospects each of the past three seasons. He's trended in the wrong direction, however, ranking 35th, 45th, and 73rd, respectively, from 2009-2011. In 192 Triple-A plate appearances, he owns a .296/.364/.478 triple slash line.

It's unclear as of yet where the Padres view Alonso fitting in, as they also have Anthony Rizzo as a first base option. Rizzo, 22, is considerably younger than Alonso, so it's possible that his struggles in the Majors have the Friars convinced he could use a full season of work in Triple-A, or he himself could become a trade chip. San Diego could also slot Alonso into a corner outfield spot, although scouts agree he's better suited for first base.

Volquez, 28, broke out in his first year with the Reds in 2008 but has not enjoyed the same success since that season.  Thanks to an elbow injury in 2009 and a 50 game suspension for performance enhancing drugs in 2010, the right-hander logged just 112.1 big league innings during that two-year span.  Last season, Volquez turned in a 5.71 ERA with 8.6 K/9 and 5.4 BB/9 across 20 starts.  Volquez is arbitration eligible for the second time and will be a free agent after the 2013 campaign.

Grandal, who turned 23 last month, shot up the charts this season by hitting .305/.401/.500 and reaching Triple-A as a 22-year-old. Baseball America ranked him fourth among Reds prospects heading into 2012, writing that he projects as an above average offensive catcher with solid defense. "He has a balanced approach, controls the strike zone and uses the entire field... [he] still has work to do on his receiving and could use a full year in Triple-A."While it's difficult to give up a catcher with that kind of minor league production, the Reds also have Devin Mesoraco, and likely felt they were dealing from a position of depth.

Boxberger ranked 10th on the Cincy farm, according to BA. He struggled with his command all season but still posted a 2.03 ERA in 62 minor league relief innings. He walked 4.1 per nine innings but posted a whopping 13.5 K/9. BA writes that if he can control his pitches like he did in the Arizona Fall League this year, he projects as a setup man and possibly a closer.

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports first tweeted that Latos was headed to Cincinnati in a deal involving Alonso.  Troy Renck of the Denver Post tweeted that Volquez was also headed to San Diego in the deal.

Photo courtesy of Tony Medina/Icon SMI.



Reds Eyeing Gonzalez, Latos, Jurrjens

Gio Gonzalez, Mat Latos and Jair Jurrjens are among the pitchers on the Reds’ wish list, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter links). Latos may be available in the right deal, Gonzalez could be had, but Oakland's asking price is high and Jurrjens also appears to be availableGM Walt Jocketty recently told Rosenthal that he’s looking aggressively at ways of improving his team’s pitching staff, despite the high asking prices sellers are setting for available arms.

Matt Garza, who could earn a salary approaching $9MM through arbitration, is too expensive for Jocketty’s liking and John Danks is less appealing than some alternatives, as he’s under team control for just one season, Rosenthal writes. James Shields appears to be out of the reach for every team, including the Reds, and Jocketty is aiming to obtain a better pitcher than Wade Davis.



Padres Rumors: Latos, Headley, Bartlett, Hudson

Last week we heard that the Padres aren't shopping right-hander Mat Latos, but today Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reminds us that the team isn't in the position to rule anything out. Here are Rosenthal's rumors out of San Diego...

  • Byrnes is "willing to talk about every player on his roster" and other clubs are inquiring about Latos, but Rosenthal reiterates that the 24-year-old isn't being shopped.
  • Third baseman Chase Headley is the player most in demand and most likely to be traded. The Tigers have interest in him, but the Padres are said to be asking for "the moon."
  • Jason Bartlett and Orlando Hudson are very available, but they're also drawing very little interest.
  • Rosenthal expects the Padres to be active at some point in soon.



Padres Are Not Shopping Mat Latos

The Padres' rotation will have a different look next year after Wade LeBlanc and Aaron Harang departed via trade and free agency, respectively, but the club isn't planning to move its homegrown ace. Tom Krasovic of Inside The Padres reports that San Diego is not shopping Mat Latos, but other teams don't think the right-hander is cemented in the team's long-term plans.

Latos, 24, is coming off two stellar seasons despite a bout with shoulder inflammation early in 2011. Since the start of 2010, he's pitched to a 3.21 ERA in 379 innings across 62 starts. He's struck out 8.88 batters per nine innings, walked just 2.66 per nine, and generated a ground ball 43.7% of the time. The Padres control Latos for another four seasons, the final three as an arbitration-eligible player, so his trade value at the moment is substantial.









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