Matt Harrison Rumors

Rangers Notes: Harrison, Daniels, Hamels, Gallardo

Rangers officials personally informed Matt Harrison that he was going to be traded midway through the Rangers’ game on Wednesday, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News writes.  With rumors of the Cole Hamels trade swirling, GM Jon Daniels didn’t want an awkward repeat of the 2013 situation when longtime Ranger Ian Kinsler only found out he was dealt to Detroit via social media.  Harrison assumed the in-game meeting regarded Hamels, though Harrison thought he was being told that his next start was being pushed a day to accommodate the former Phillie.  Here’s some more from the Rangers…

  • Daniels discussed the Hamels trade and more during an appearance on The Front Office with Jim Duquette and Grant Paulsen on MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM.  The Rangers first tried to acquire Hamels in 2012 before he signed his contract extension with the Phillies, and talks between the two sides became serious again both this last offseason and this July (Twitter link).
  • The Rangers gave up several prospects for Hamels, though Daniels said it was a necessary price given that the Phillies were taking on Harrison’s contract and also sending $9.5MM in cash to Texas.  “When you’re talking that significant discount financially we understood we had to put a little more talent in the deal,” Daniels said (Twitter link).
  • Daniels also talked about the decision to hold onto Yovani Gallardo (audio link), which was inspired by the Rangers’ desire to make a playoff run, no mandate from ownership to unload Gallardo’s salary and the general feeling that there wasn’t an offer on the table that really intrigued the Rangers.  “It didn’t make sense for us, we didn’t want to pull the rug from under the club,” Daniels said.  “I’d rather have him continue to pitch for us and get the draft pick [if Gallardo leaves in free agency] than get a B- or C-level deal.”  The number of other solid pitchers on the market may have been another reason why a Gallardo deal didn’t materialize, the general manager speculated.
  • In regards to Gallardo’s pending free agency, Daniels said the Rangers will save any negotiations until after the season.

NL East Notes: Marlins, Ozuna, Phillies, Mets

Agent Scott Boras says the Marlins are leaving outfielder Marcell Ozuna at Triple-A New Orleans to potentially delay his arbitration eligibility, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald writes.  The agent claims that Marlins players are upset about the situation and this “is not what Marlins fans deserve.” The Marlins, meanwhile, deny that Ozuna is being kept in the minors for financial reasons. Here’s more out of the NL East..

  • Phillies interim manager Pete Mackanin is doubtful that new acquisition Matt Harrison will be on the mound in 2015, Matt Breen the Philadelphia inquirer writes.  “I said, ‘I know you feel bad, but we’re looking at you for what we’re about to become rather than this year,’ ” Mackanin said. “Because, we’re really not playing for a whole lot this year.”   Harrison came to the Phillies from Texas as part of the Cole Hamels deal last week.
  • The development of Jorge Alfaro could dictate the final verdict on the Phillies‘ return in the Cole Hamels trade, Jake Kaplan of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes. Alfaro, who could miss the rest of this season because of a left-ankle injury suffered June, was labeled “one of the minors’ best catching prospects” recently by ESPN’s Keith Law.
  • Several Marlins players were not happy about the club’s trades last week, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald writes. “Can we go home now? Can we go home now? They got rid of everybody,” one prominent player said loudly in Miami’s clubhouse on Friday, according to Jackson. Other players expressed disappointment privately about the roster moves, he writes.
  • In order to open up a roster spot for Yoenis Cespedes, the Mets demoted top prospect Michael Conforto, as Anthony Rieber of Newsday writes.  Conforto previously impressed at Double-A, now he’ll experience Triple-A for the first time.

Rosenthal’s Latest: Dodgers, Mets, Hamels, Jays, Astros

An elite starting pitcher was a luxury good for the Dodgers, writes Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. That’s why Los Angeles passed on talents like Cole Hamels, David Price, and Johnny Cueto despite possessing the prospect depth to acquire their pick of the litter. Instead, the club flexed its financial might to acquire Mat Latos, Alex Wood, Jim Johnson, Luis Avilan, and Jose Peraza. The biggest piece dealt away by the Dodgers was 30-year-old Cuban infielder Hector Olivera. The utility man has not yet reached the majors after signing a six-year, $62.5MM deal with the Dodgers. A full $28MM of that was in the form of a signing bonus.

Here’s more from Rosenthal:

  • Cynics may find a way to criticize the Mets deadline transactions. Perhaps they didn’t add enough to the payroll or were too small minded? However, the moves for Yoenis Cespedes, Tyler Clippard, Kelly Johnson, and Juan Uribe provided essential upgrades to a roster that was showing signs of stress. GM Sandy Alderson deserves kudos for improving the club while working within tight constraints. To me, this was Rosenthal’s money quote, “Mets fans will not be satisfied –€“ and should not be satisfied –€“ until the team raises its payroll to a level more commensurate with the New York market.
  • Echoing the sentiments of many analysts, both the Phillies and Rangers did well in the Hamels trade. With the Phillies taking on Matt Harrison and chipping in cash, the Rangers will pay Hamels an average of $13MM to $14MM per season if his option vests. They also hung onto top prospects Joey Gallo and Nomar Mazara. On Philadelphia’s end, acquiring three quality prospects will do much to bolster their future.
  • The Blue Jays, unlike the Dodgers, are often described as a cash strapped organization. Instead of taking on payroll like L.A., the Blue Jays dealt 11 prospects and Jose Reyes to acquire Troy Tulowitzki, David Price, Ben Revere, Mark Lowe, and LaTroy Hawkins. They’re 6.5 games back in the AL East and 1.5 games behind the Twins for the second Wild Card slot.
  • The Astros also spent their prospect chips for major league upgrades. They made the first deadline strike by acquiring Scott Kazmir then paid a princely sum for Carlos Gomez and Mike Fiers. Interestingly, mid-market teams like the Astros, Blue Jays, Mets, and Royals used prospects in their search for October baseball. The Yankees and Dodgers opted to use money or stand pat.


Reactions To The Cole Hamels Trade

In the days leading up to the trade deadline, the Phillies finally traded ace Cole Hamels, sending him with Jake Diekman and cash to Texas for pitcher Matt Harrison, top catching prospect Jorge Alfaro, outfielder Nick Williams, and young pitchers Jake Thompson, Alec Asher and Jerad Eickhoff. Here’s a roundup of reactions to one of the week’s biggest deals.

  • The Giants came very close to acquring Hamels — so close, in fact, that Hamels waived his no-trade rights to allow the Phillies to trade him to San Francisco, as Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe tweets.
  • The Phillies got a strong return for Hamels, Corey Seidman of CSNPhilly.com writes. Alfaro looks like the key to the deal for Philadelphia, but the Phillies also got interesting pieces in Thompson and Williams, and they actually can use Harrison as well, even though he’s in the deal partially to offset Hamels’ salary.
  • Philadelphia got “quantity and quality” in the Hamels trade, says MLB.com’s Jim Callis (video link). Callis says Thompson’s slider is, at its best, one of the top sliders in the minors, and Williams has great bat speed and has dramatically improved his plate discipline. Alfaro needs to improve his polish in some areas, but he has terrific tools, including his arm strength.
  • The Phillies could continue trading in August, MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki writes. Chase Utley could be a candidate to be dealt, assuming his injured ankle heals and he waives his no-trade privileges. Aaron Harang and Jeff Francoeur are possibilities as well.

Rangers Designate Neftali Feliz, Activate Matt Harrison

The Rangers have designated righty Neftali Feliz for assignment, Anthony Andro of FOX Sports Southwest reports on Twitter. His roster spot will go to starter Matt Harrison, who will return to the big leagues after a long layoff for serious back surgery.

May 12, 2015; Arlington, TX, USA; Texas Rangers relief pitcher Neftali Feliz (30) throws a pitch in the ninth inning against the Kansas City Royals at Globe Life Park in Arlington. The Royals won 7-6 in 10 innings. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Feliz, 27, was once an ace reliever for Texas and owns a 2.71 career ERA over 259 1/3 big league innings. He has struck out 8.4 and walked 3.5 batters per nine over that span, with a 35.4% groundball rate.

Those career marks include a particularly rough start to the current season. Feliz has allowed 5.09 earned runs per regulation game, with 7.6 K/9 against 4.6 BB/9. He still works in the 93 to 94 mph range with his fastball, down a few ticks from his early season peak but still in line with recent campaigns.

Truth be told, the results have not been supported by ERA estimators in recent seasons. Feliz has not posted a sub-4.00 SIERA since way back in 2011, and has not dipped below the 3.00 mark by that measure since his first two seasons. Much the same holds when one looks at his FIP and xFIP numbers.

Things seemingly took a turn for the worse when the team attempted to utilize him as a starter in 2012. Feliz had a rocky go of it, throwing 42 2/3 innings of 3.16 ERA ball while benefiting greatly from a high strand rate and miniscule .213 BABIP. ERA estimators all had him pegged as a replacement level rotation piece. Feliz ultimately succumbed to Tommy John surgery in May of 2012, and has never quite recovered his arm speed.

While all the signs were there, it nevertheless remains stunning to see the move. Feliz was one of the game’s more promising arms in his heyday. He is owed $4.13MM this year, and comes with one more season of arbitration eligibility. Given his salary and recent performance, it would not be surprising to see him pass through waivers, but with over five years of service (he entered the season with 4.151 on his tab), he’d be eligible to elect free agency and keep the money.

The other major news here, of course, is the return of Harrison. It once seemed unclear whether he’d ever throw again, yet alone return to the majors. The 29-year-old was a steady contributor over 2011-12, racing up 399 frames with a 3.34 ERA and leading the team to lock him up to a five-year, $55MM pact. He is still under control through 2018, with the last year coming through a $13.25MM club option ($2MM buyout), and at this point Texas will be glad to receive any contribution from the southpaw.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


West Notes: Martin, Harrison, Bradley, Giants

Here’s the latest from the game’s western divisions:

  • Rangers outfielder Leonys Martin may be fighting for his roster spot over the next week, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News writes. The speedy outfielder is sporting a .270 OBP on the year, and with Delino DeShields and Josh Hamilton set to return before long, the club may soon have viable replacements in center. Martin can still be optioned, so Texas can give him some time in the minors to work things out if it wishes.
  • The Rangers also have new options in the rotation with Matt Harrison seemingly nearing readiness for a big league start, Grant further writes. A six-man rotation is possible, says manager Jeff Banister, as is the potential of resting one of the current rotation members with a DL stint. Regardless of the team’s course of action, it’s remarkable that we’re at this point, as it once seemed that Harrison might never pitch again.
  • Diamondbacks hurler Archie Bradley is headed for a visit with Dr. James Andrews for a second opinion on his balky right shoulder, Nick Piecoro reports (Twitter links). The club’s physician found only tendinitis, but Bradley continued to feel discomfort in his latest rehab outing. It’s far too soon to speculate, of course, but at a minimum it seems it’ll be a while longer until Arizona gets Bradley back into its rotation.
  • The Giants are working hard on the July 2 market, Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs tweets. San Francisco is “trying hard” to land Bahamian shortstop Lucius Fox and may be the single team most closely pursuing Eddy Julio Martinez, says McDaniel. But the sense in the industry is still that the Dodgers will get both players, he adds.

AL Notes: Royals, Holland, Harrison, Urshela

While much of the focus around the game remains on the ongoing draft, let’s take a peek in at the latest from the American League:

  • The Royals will soon have to make a call between catchers Drew Butera and Erik Kratz, Jeffrey Flanagan writes for MLB.com. Neither of the reserve backstops can be optioned, and Kratz is nearing the end of a rehab assignment. “If I were to handicap both of them, I would say Butera is the better defensive player and Kratz is the better offensive player,” said skipper Ned Yost, who explained that he had yet to speak with GM Dayton Moore about the decision.
  • The Rangers rotation has held together well enough, and has received a nice boost from Chi Chi Gonzalez, but nevertheless remains an area to watch as the team continues to play solid baseball. Texas may well look to add in the rotation, particularly since the club now seems unlikely to welcome back lefty Derek Holland until right around the trade deadline. Holland has not progressed as well as hoped from his sub-scapular strain, GM Jon Daniels told reporters including Stefan Stevenson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram (Twitter link). It now looks like he’ll be out until at least late July or even into August, per Daniels.
  • In more positive news, fellow Rangers southpaw Matt Harrison has managed to return to the hill and is throwing in the low-90s, as Kevin Sherrington writes for the Dallas Morning News. The results haven’t been there for Harrison in his work thus far at Triple-A — he’s allowed eight earned in ten innings — but that is secondary to his overall health at this point given the serious back issues he has dealt with. Harrison still has work to do, clearly, but he could bolster the Texas rotation by early July. He’s owed $13MM annually this year and the next two, while the team holds a $13.25MM option ($2MM buyout) for 2018.
  • As expected, the Indians have officially called up third baseman Giovanny Urshela, a 23-year-old who’ll see his first big league action. Urshela, who entered the year as the system’s 11th-best prospect in the eyes of Baseball America, has slashed .275/.301/.475 in his 83 Triple-A plate appearances this year. He’s said to be more advanced defensively than at the plate, but has significant raw power and solid contact ability (though he does not take many free passes).

Rosenthal’s Latest: Puig, Royals, Rangers, Gray

Dodgers president Andrew Friedman will entertain offers for any player, even Yasiel Puig, reports Ken Rosenthal in his latest video for FOX Sports. The right-handed outfielder is under club control through 2019. He’s paid just $4.5MM this season and $5.5MM in 2016. Puig, 24, provides necessary balance to a lineup that will include left-handers Adrian Gonzalez, Joc Pederson, and Corey Seager. The Dodgers would like to add a top young starter, but it would take an awful lot for Puig to be included in a deal. My own personal spit balling – it would take a starter like Matt Harvey to open a conversation. Here’s more from Rosenthal:

  • The Royals rotation ranks 13th in the American League in ERA. Rival executives expect the club to acquire starting pitching at the deadline. Kansas City may have a narrow window for contention. Alex Gordon can opt out of his contract after this season. Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer are under club control through 2017. The club does have Danny Duffy and Kris Medlen on the rehab trail, but setbacks are always possible. Personally, I wouldn’t expect them to seek a top pitcher like Cole Hamels or Johnny Cueto. However, I could see them targeting a guy like Aaron Harang.
  • The Rangers could soon find themselves with a surplus of starting pitchers. The club promoted Chi Chi Gonzalez today. Meanwhile, Derek Holland, Matt Harrison, and Martin Perez are expected to return at some point this season. As Rosenthal points out, setbacks to that trio would not be surprising. Rather than trading a starter, the club might revisit their previous efforts to acquire Hamels. Texas is just one game below .500 entering this evening.
  • The Athletics are unlikely to deal ace Sonny Gray. At the end of the season, he’ll have the same amount of service time as Josh Donaldson did last winter. However, the A’s still hope to build a contender – if not this season then next. Gray is key cog for Oakland.

Rangers Claim Alex Hassan From Athletics

The Rangers have claimed outfielder Alex Hassan off waivers from the division-rival Athletics, Texas EVP of communications John Blake tweets. To make room on the 40-man roster, left-hander Matt Harrison has been transferred to the 60-day disabled list.

The 27-year-old Hassan has grown accustomed to changing uniforms over the past year, to say the least. Originally with the Red Sox, he was designated for assignment in November and claimed by the A’s, only to be designated and claimed by the Orioles just days later. Hassan believed he was Baltimore-bound until late February, when the Orioles designated him to make room for Everth Cabrera, and the A’s re-claimed him on waivers. Hassan again found himself on waivers after losing his 40-man spot to the recently signed Cody Ross, and he’ll hope to stick with a Rangers organization that is thin on quality outfield options at the moment.

That Hassan is so often claimed isn’t necessarily a surprise when considering the production he’s provided at the upper levels of the Minor Leagues. The former 20th-round pick is a career .282/.387/.411 hitter in 1082 Triple-A plate appearances, and he’s never posted an OBP lower than .377 in a full Minor League season. Hassan has played both corner outfield spots and first base a fair amount, giving him some versatility to go along with that high-OBP approach and his history of strong batting averages. All told, Hassan has walked in nearly 14 percent of his Minor League plate appearances while striking out at a relatively low rate of 17.9 percent in the Minors.


West Notes: Romo, Harrison, Athletics, Padres

Giants reliever Sergio Romo left no doubts about how glad he is to be back with San Francisco, as Alex Pavlovic of CSNBayArea.com reports (Twitter links). “It was like, we can get this done in five minutes, for real,” Romo said of his free agent stance towards the Giants. “Call me up.” Though other clubs offered him a chance to return to a closing role, Romo says he “just didn’t want to go anywhere.”

Here’s more from the game’s western divisions:

  • Rangers lefty Matt Harrison feels increasingly confident in his ability to make it back to the big leagues, MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan writes. Now working his way up to a full-size mound, Harrison still faces a difficult road in his return from spinal fusion surgery. “I don’t think about [retirement] anymore,” Harrison said. “It would definitely be hard to do without giving it another shot. The more I learn and the more I understand the rehab, I feel good about the possibility of getting back to a five-day rehab.” Obviously, any future contribution from Harrison — who is owed owed $41MM between now and 2017 (including a buyout on an option for 2018) — would be welcome news for a Texas club that has been beset by a variety of pitching injuries in recent years.
  • New commissioner Rob Manfred says a new ballpark for the Athletics is a priority, as the Associated Press reports (via ESPN.com). While Major League Baseball will remain involved, Manfred said that he is not sure how much influence it can have on the process and said he prefers the team to work with Oakland on a solution.
  • Padres owner Ron Fowler vetoed a June 2013 proposal from the team’s baseball executives to make a bid to acquire Cliff Lee, Tom Krasovic of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. Then just ten months into his chairmanship, and overseeing a front office led by then-GM Josh Byrnes, Fowler decided the move did not make sense given the team’s overall situation and Lee’s expense. San Diego had been hovering at .500 at the time, but quickly fell back and out of contention that year, and obviously the move could have had significant long-term repercussions as things turned out.