Matt Adams Rumors

Quick Hits: Drew, Morales, Nelson, Taveras, Bukauskas

With Stephen Drew and Kendrys Morales still unsigned with less than a month to go before the amateur draft, it is looking increasingly plausible that the pair will wait to shed their accompanying draft pick compensation before finding a new club. As Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports on Twitter, teams will be able to ink either of the two free agents without giving up a pick as soon as the first day of the draft is completed on June 5. Of course, that is also the point at which their former clubs — the Red Sox and Mariners, respectively — would no longer stand to gain a compensatory choice should they sign elsewhere after declining qualifying offers.

Here’s more from around the league …

  • Reds third baseman Chris Nelson will not exercise the opt-out clause in his contract that came due today, tweets Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com. The 28-year-old will continue on with Triple-A Louisville for the time being, though his deal includes another opt-out date a month from now.
  • A rival talent evaluator tells ESPN.com’s Buster Olney (Insider link) that the Cardinals‘ decision on the promotion of star prospect Oscar Taveras is complicated by the team’s defensive issues. In that source’s estimation, Taveras is better suited to the corner outfield than center. The team’s best method of creating space, he opines, would be to deal first baseman Matt Adams and put Allen Craig back in the infield. As Olney notes, Adams would figure to draw plenty of trade interest given his solid bat (career .803 OPS) and lengthy team control (through 2018).
  • 17-year-old high-school hurler Jacob Bukauskas, a potential first-round choice in the upcoming draft, has notified scouts that he plans to attend the University of North Carolina, according to John Manuel of Baseball America. The hard-throwing righty had pitched himself into consideration for selection in the late first or early second round, though some scouts believe he may not be able to stick as a starter. As Manuel notes, the Stone Bridge High School product will not be eligible for the draft again until 2017 if he matriculates at UNC.

James Loney To Rays Further Thins First Base Market

With Corey Hart and Logan Morrison heading to the Mariners and James Loney agreeing to return to the Rays this week, the Pirates and Brewers remain on the hunt for a first baseman, as MLB.com's Anthony DiComo notes (via Twitter). The Astros could be on the lookout for a first baseman as well. With Mike Napoli (Red Sox) and Justin Morneau (Rockies) also gone, there isn't much left on the free-agent market, which means teams still hoping to acquire a first baseman will probably also consider trades. Here's a look at the main options still available.

  • Matt Adams, Cardinals. Adams is far better than most of the players listed below, but the Cardinals would only be likely to move him in a major deal. It would be very hard for the Pirates or Brewers to pry him away, since they're both NL Central teams, and the Astros likely don't have the big-league talent the Cardinals would need in order to decide to part with him. His .284/.335/.503 line in 2013 would be a valuable addition to any big-league lineup, however.
  • Kendrys Morales, free agent. Morales might be the highest-profile name remaining as a free agent, but after a season in which he hit .277/.336/.449 while playing poor defense (in the 31 games in which he played first base), he declined the Mariners' qualifying offer. It's hard to see many teams, including the Pirates and Brewers, give up a draft pick for the right to sign a defensively-limited player on the wrong side of 30. It appears likely that Morales will end up back with an AL team, as CBS Sports' Mike Axisa recently noted.
  • Ike Davis, Mets. The Mets seem determined to trade either Davis or Lucas Duda. Davis may be the more attractive of the two candidates, due to his power, although he'll also be more expensive than Duda in arbitration this year. The Mets also seem more inclined to trade Davis. With Loney off the market, there's now a clear path for the Mets to deal Davis to either the Brewers or Pirates. There may be a feeling around baseball that they waited too long, however, with Mike Puma of the New York Post recently tweeting that a source recently told him the Mets were going to "sell low" on Davis. The Star-Ledger's Andy McCullough, meanwhile, tweeted, "The Mets' slow, steady march toward trading Ike Davis for something like a right-handed relief prospect is such a drag." In any case, it's hard to see the Mets getting much for Davis, or any team getting particularly excited about installing him at first, after he hit .205/.326/.334 in 2013, even though he batted .286/.449/.505 after the All-Star break. Davis appears set to make about $3.5MM through arbitration in 2014.
  • Justin Smoak, Mariners. With Hart and Morrison both heading to Seattle, Smoak is now available, with the Mariners likely favoring a big-league contributor, rather than a prospect, in return. It remains to be seen how much other teams might want Smoak, however — the former top prospect has hovered around replacement level for his career, and at 27, it may be that his once-highly-regarded bat won't ever carry him. Smoak hit .238/.334/.412 in 2013.
  • Mitch Moreland, Rangers. Moreland's name has appeared in trade rumors since Texas traded for Prince Fielder, but he currently still has a role in Texas at DH. That could change somewhat, however, if the Rangers sign Shin-Soo Choo or re-sign Nelson Cruz, but right now, there appears to be no pressing reason for the Rangers to trade Moreland unless they want to. Moreland hit .232/.299/.437 in 2013, but unlike any of the trade candidates mentioned above, he does play plus defense at first base.
  • Adam Lind, Blue Jays. Lind, who batted .288/.357/.497 in 2013, is a well-above-average hitter, but he's not much of a defender at any position. Also, like Moreland, he has a clear role on his current team as a DH. The Pirates recently asked the Jays about Lind, only to have the Jays ask for Neil Walker in return. If the Blue Jays do trade Lind, he probably won't come cheap.
  • Mike Carp, Red Sox. WEEI's Rob Bradford recently tweeted that Carp was receiving plenty of attention on the trade market, which is no surprise — unlike Davis and Smoak, Carp hit well in 2013, and unlike Moreland and Lind, he has no clear starting role with his current team. Carp played mostly first base and outfield in 2013, but with Jackie Bradley Jr. expected to replace Jacoby Ellsbury in center field, and with Shane Victorino, Daniel Nava and Jonny Gomes expected to play in the corner spots, he won't necessarily be needed in the outfield next year. There isn't much room elsewhere, either, with Mike Napoli and David Ortiz returning at first base and DH, respectively. If Carp hits .296/.362/.523 again, the Red Sox can surely find space for him, but if another team approaches them with a nice offer, they could easily deal him, too.
  • Eric Chavez, free agent. CBS Sports' Jon Heyman recently reported that the Pirates were one of several teams to check in on Chavez, and upon inspection, it's easy to see why. The veteran hit .281/.332/.478 in Arizona in 2013, and while he has limited experience at first base and isn't the defensive star he once was at third, it's easy to imagine he would be at least average defensively if he were to move across the diamond. He might also be relatively cheap, since he was a part-time player in 2013. He's an injury risk, but with Pittsburgh, in particular, he wouldn't have to play every day, since Gaby Sanchez would start against lefties.
  • Kevin Youkilis, free agent. Youkilis missed most of the 2013 season due to injury and wasn't good when he played, but he was a valuable asset as recently as 2011. He'll be 35 in March, however, and showed signs of decline in 2012, so it's fair to wonder how much he has left. He also prefers to play on the West Coast, so he may not want to sign with Milwaukee or Pittsburgh.

Cardinals, Rockies To Discuss Troy Tulowitzki Trade

The Cardinals and Rockies will discuss a potential Troy Tulowitzki trade at this week's GM/owner meetings, Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports reports. The Cardinals have also asked the Rangers about the possibility of trading for Elvis Andrus or Jurickson Profar, Passan writes.

The Cardinals' troubles at the shortstop position are well-known, as is the depth of their young talent, so potential Tulowitzki or Profar deals have long been the subjects of fan speculation. The Rockies have said they aren't interested in dealing Tulowitzki, but Passan suggests that Rockies ownership may be coming around to the idea of being out from under the $134MM remaining on Tulowitzki's contract, which carries through 2020 (with a club option for 2021).

Passan writes that one potential piece the Rockies might receive in return is first baseman Matt Adams, who so far has been blocked by Allen Craig in St. Louis. Adams hit .284/.335/.503 in part-time duty for the Cardinals this year. The Rockies would also like a pitcher — the Cardinals will not trade Michael Wacha, but Shelby Miller appears to be a possibility. Adams and Miller would highlight a package of three or four players that the Rockies might receive in return for Tulowitzki.

Tulowitzki's contract stipulates that he receive a $2MM bonus if he is traded. Tulowitzki, 29, hit .312/.391/.540 and produced 5.6 wins above replacement in 2013, making him the best shortstop in baseball. His injury history may be a concern, however, given the length of his contract.



Central Notes: Tulo, Cubs/Tigers Managerial Openings

The World Series continues tonight in St. Louis with the Cardinals holding a 2-1 lead over the Red Sox after Game 3's controversial ending. Even though their season is still in progress, many are already anticipating the Cardinals' offseason needs and shortstop sits atop that list. Earlier today, Troy Tulowitzki's name was mentioned as a possible target. Troy E. Renck of the Denver Post writes Tulo would fit perfectly in St. Louis with the Rockies' haul starting with first baseman Matt Adams and some mix of outfielder Stephen Piscotty, second baseman Kolten Wong and reliever Carlos Martinez. Renck, however, doesn't expect such a mega-deal because Rockies owner Dick Monfort has stated Tulowitzki will not be traded. Elsewhere from MLB's Central Divisions:

  • The Cubs will interview Torey Lovullo shortly after the conclusion of the World Series, reports the Chicago Sun-Times' Gordon Wittenmyer. The Cubs have yet to request permission to speak with the Red Sox's bench coach, sources from both organizations tell Wittenmyer.  
  • Within the same article, multiple industry sources say Padres bench coach Rick Renteria appears to be the favorite to land the Cubs' job.
  • The Tigers face the same challenge the Cardinals did two years ago when Tony LaRussa retired, opines John Lowe of the Detroit Free Press. If Dave Dombrowski follows the blueprint of John Mozeliak, Lowe reasons Tigers hitting coach Lloyd McClendon will likely replace Jim Leyland as manager.
  • Earlier today, I posted some Indians notes on Chris Perez, Jake Westbrook, and Corey Hart.

Quick Hits: Adams, Cole, Twins, Rangers

The 2013-2014 class of free agent pitching is "grim," says Yahoo! Sports' Jeff Passan. Hiroki Kuroda figures to be the best starting pitcher on the market, Passan says, but Kuroda is 38. A.J. Burnett is also pitching very well in his walk year, but he's 36 and has said he plans on staying with the Pirates or retiring. The likely recipient of the biggest free-agent contract for a pitcher next offseason is Matt Garza, who is 29. Garza ranks sixth, behind five hitters, in Tim Dierkes' recent 2014 Free Agent Power Rankings. Kuroda ranks seventh, and Burnett eighth. Here are more notes from around the league.

  • The Cardinals aren't interested in trading Matt Adams, ESPN's Buster Olney tweets. Adams, 24, is hitting .313/.352/.552 as a bench player this season, and he's blocked by Allen Craig, Carlos Beltran and Matt Holliday.
  • Pirates coaches have more to learn about top prospect Gerrit Cole, Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports. Cole is set to make his big-league debut on Tuesday. "I'll talk to [Indianapolis pitching coach Tom Filer] and ask if (Cole) is a guy you can converse with during the middle innings of a game, during the down time, or if he's a guy you have to stay away from and let him be in his own little world," says Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage. Pirates GM Neal Huntington, meanwhile, says that the Pirates would have preferred to let Cole stay at Indianapolis for awhile, but injuries to Wandy Rodriguez, Jeanmar Gomez and others forced their hand. It's unclear whether Cole will stay in the Bucs' rotation after his start on Tuesday.
  • The Twins' selection of Kohl Stewart with the fourth overall pick in this weekend's draft marked the first time since 1992 that the Twins have taken a high-school pitcher with their first first-round pick, writes Phil Mackey of 1500ESPN. That 1992 pick was Dan Serafini, who struggled as a Twin and ended up a journeyman, with brief stints pitching for the Cubs, Padres, Pirates, Reds and Rockies, and also in Mexico and Japan. The Twins haven't had much more luck with other high-school pitchers taken in the early rounds, Mackey says, although it should help that Stewart was the fourth overall pick. "The odds are good that he's going to surface at the major leagues,"says Twins GM Terry Ryan. "Most of the first rounders surface at the major league level. Now, whether or not they become All-Stars or the types of guys that have the careers of a (Joe) Mauer, that is few and far between. But picking up at the 4-hole, certainly the odds are better than if you're picking at the 24-hole."
  • The Rangers have signed 12 draft picks, including their fourth- through ninth-round picks, according to a team release. One of those signed was catcher Joe Jackson of the Citadel, who is the great-great-great nephew of "Shoeless" Joe Jackson.