Matt Kemp Rumors

West Notes: Kemp, Cabrera, Kendrick, Upton

With the Winter Meetings beginning in San Diego, this could be the week the Dodgers finally deal from their glut of outfielders, writes Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times. The Dodgers would prefer to hang onto Matt Kemp, according to Shaikin, but Major League players are not being offered for either Andre Ethier or Carl Crawford.

Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune reports the Mariners were close to a deal for Kemp with Seattle paying roughly half of the $107 million remaining on his salary over the next five years, but things fell apart when the Dodgers insisted on the inclusion of either Taijuan Walker or James Paxton. In a second article, Dutton lists the Padres and the Orioles as the Mariners’ primary competition for Kemp, with Shaikin adding the Giants are a possibility, if they fail to sign Chase Headley. With Nelson Cruz now in Seattle, Dutton opines the Mariners’ interest in Kemp will depend on what other offers the Dodgers receive. Those other offers may not be to the Dodgers’ liking, as Shaikin notes the Braves (Justin Upton and Evan Gattis), Red Sox (Yoenis Cespedes and Allen Craig), and Phillies (Marlon Byrd) also have right-handed power bats available to trade.

Elsewhere in baseball’s West divisions:

  • Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman says the constant rumors that come with running a major market team are “comical,” but he doesn’t necessarily mind it, writes Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register. “Misinformation can be a powerful tool,” Friedman said.
  • The Mariners are reluctant to part with their young pitching to acquire an outfield bat, according to Dutton. “That’s a little bit of a dangerous road,” said GM Jack Zduriencik. “You look at our pitching staff, and when you analyze it, a couple of those young starters didn’t pitch a lot of innings last year.
  • Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets the Mariners are very serious about their pursuit of Melky Cabrera. Last week, it was reported the M’s are believed to be willing to offer something similar to the four-year, $57MM deal that they used to sign Cruz.
  • In a separate tweet, Rosenthal posits the Angels are reluctant to trade second baseman Howie Kendrick because of offensive concerns including uncertainity about Josh Hamilton, an unsettled DH situation, and no clear backup catcher.
  • Sources tell ESPN’s Buster Olney (via Twitter) the Giants and Reds are great fits for Justin Upton, but neither match up well with the Braves and may need to involve a third team to swing a deal.
  • Olney also tweets the Astros continue to pursue closer David Robertson and his most lucrative offer might come from Houston.
  • Rockies GM Jeff Bridich tells Patrick Saunders of The Denver Post there has been interest in catcher Wilin Rosario, but Colorado “could very easily go into the season with Wilin.

Padres Notes: Kennedy, Cespedes, Shortstop, Ross

With the focus of the baseball world on San Diego this week for the Winter Meetings, here’s the latest on the city’s team:

  • The Padres have discussed a trade with the Red Sox involving Ian Kennedy and Yoenis Cespedes, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Boston, however, feels Cespedes can bring back a pitcher better than Kennedy.
  • Rosenthal also tweets the Padres could match up with Texas to fill their hole at shortstop since the Rangers have a surplus at the position and San Diego GM A.J. Preller knows their system very well.
  • The ultimate prize this offseason for the Padres could be Matt Kemp or Justin Upton, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune’s Dennis Lin. While each player comes with substantial risk (Kemp’s contract and Upton being only a year away from free agency), Lin believes the risk is offset by the Padres’ need to land an impact bat to shore up an offense lacking corner infielders and a shortstop.
  • The interest between the Padres and free agent catcher David Ross is mutual, Lin tweets. The Padres, meanwhile, seem intent on moving a catcher. Ross has been connected to the Cubs and Braves, as well as the Padres.
  • If the Padres swing a trade with the Dodgers, Lin (via Twitter) wonders if left-hander Alex Torres could be involved. Torres has history with both Andrew Friedman and Josh Byrnes.

Dodgers Notes: Kemp, Lester, Martin

Here’s the latest from Chavez Ravine…

  • The Dodgers were allegedly planning to have a fairly quiet offseason, though given their involvement in several high-profile rumors, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman wonders if the club has changed its tune after seeing their rivals in San Francisco win yet another World Series.  The Dodgers have spent so much time exploring a Matt Kemp trade, for instance, that some feel their efforts have gone beyond due diligence and they’re seriously thinking of moving the outfielder.
  • Andrew Friedman doesn’t mind “noise” about his team’s intentions, and Heyman suggests that the lack of certainty about the Dodgers’ winter plans could be of some use to the team.  For instance, one rival executive thinks the Dodgers’ reported interest in Jon Lester could be a ploy to drive the left-hander’s price up and potentially keep him away from the Giants.  Another rival exec says Lester “really isn’t an L.A. guy” and wouldn’t be prone to sign with a team only due to the money.
  • A source tells Heyman that the Dodgers offered Russell Martin a four-year, $74MM contract.  Though it fell short of the five-year, $82MM deal that Martin received from Toronto, Los Angeles’ offer is the second-largest bid known to have been made for the catcher, topping the Cubs’ reported $70MM offer.
  • Trading Kemp doesn’t make sense for a Dodgers team that’s trying to win now, Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Times argues.  Another club isn’t likely to surrender an elite prospect for a player with Kemp’s contract and injury history, so Dilbeck feels the Dodgers are better off keeping their valuable power bat.


NL Notes: Markakis, Ethier, Cubs, Rosario, Gattis

New Braves outfielder Nick Markakis is leaning toward undergoing neck surgery to repair a bulging disc, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter links). The possibility of the surgery, which could come with a recovery time as long as 12 weeks, was known to the Braves before signing him, Rosenthal adds. The neck issue is believed by some to be one of the reasons that the Orioles were reluctant to go beyond three years for Markakis. Even with a 12-week recovery, Markakis would seemingly be ready to go for most of Spring Training. The Braves are confident that he’ll be ready for Opening Day, per Rosenthal.

Here are some more notes from around the Senior Circuit…

  • An executive from a team with interest in trading for Matt Kemp tells ESPN’s Jayson Stark that he’s still unconvinced that the Dodgers will actually move Kemp (Twitter link). Stark’s source feels that Andre Ethier is “still the guy they want to move.” Earlier today, it was reported that Ethier has communicated to the Dodgers that he prefers to be a starter next season, even if it means with another club. Ethier took his loss of playing time in stride this past season and has drawn praise for handling it quite well.
  • The Cubs are still looking for help behind the plate, president Theo Epstein told reporters, including ESPN Chicago’s Jesse Rogers. On the one hand, Epstein praised incumbent Welington Castillo, noting that he does a “nice job” of many things and has a promising future. In particular, Epstein praised Castillo’s throwing and blocking, though he noted that framing and receiving are areas to improve. He also added that, “…catching is one of the few areas on the field where we can add some veteran leadership — in the near term, anyway — and not block a potential impact player.” The allusion to veteran leadership could imply a backup catcher, though Rogers also speculates on adding someone like Miguel Montero to platoon with Castillo and receive the lion’s share of playing time.
  • In an excellent analysis for GammonsDaily.com, David Golebiewski examines whether or not trade candidates Evan Gattis (Braves) and Wilin Rosario (Rockies) should remain behind the plate or only be of interest to teams who can move them off the position. Golebiewski notes that Gattis is a perhaps surprisingly competent pitch-framer, though he struggles to block balls in the dirt and is below-average at catching base stealers. Rosario, on the other hand, averages -12 runs in pitch-framing and -5 runs in blocking per season. Golebiewski feels that Gattis can follow a career path similar to Mike Napoli, providing a few solid seasons behind the plate before his large 6’4″, 260-pound frame causes him to move for another pitcher. Regarding Rosario, he offers a much bleaker take: “No matter where he suits up in 2015, it’s time to hide his mask and chest plate.”

Matt Kemp Rumors: Friday

Last night, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports shed some light on the Dodgers’ Matt Kemp trade talks with the Padres, reporting that Yasmani Grandal would likely be in any package, with money heading back to San Diego to help facilitate the deal. Kemp’s name figures to be a heavily discussed topic in the coming days as we prepare for the 2014 Winter Meetings. We’ll keep track of Friday’s Kemp rumors in this post…

  • The Rangers have also checked in on Kemp, tweets Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. Texas is known to be in the market for an outfield bat with Alex Rios‘ departure. They’ve previously been linked to Torii Hunter (who signed with the Twins) and Justin Upton.

Earlier Updates

  • The Mariners remain in talks with the Dodgers regarding Kemp, according to Rosenthal (Twitter links). While the $107MM commitment remaining on Kemp’s contract is an obstacle, the Mariners have shown a real reluctance to give up a significant package for one year of Justin Upton. Rosenthal’s implication seems to be that if some money heads to Seattle in the deal, they may be more willing to part with talent for a long-term upgrade than a rental player.
  • The Orioles are also in talks for Kemp, tweets Rosenthal, and they have a different obstacle in those discussions. Baltimore is known to generally be one of the game’s most cautious teams when it comes to injuries, and Kemp has a spotty health track record. He underwent ankle and shoulder surgeries following the 2013 season, Rosenthal notes. Additionally, Kemp had shoulder surgery following the 2012 season. He played in just 179 games from 2012-13, though he’s been durable in the surrounding years. Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun makes a good point, tweeting that it’s hard to see the O’s setting aside injury concerns with Kemp when they just let Nick Markakis, who had been a fixture in right field, depart due to concerns pertaining to a neck issue.

Latest On Padres’ Talks For Matt Kemp

The Dodgers and Padres are in continued discussions on the possibility of a Matt Kemp trade, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter links). One scenario that has been discussed would have Yasmani Grandal headed to the Dodgers (among other pieces, presumably) with Kemp and some cash headed back to the Friars. However, Rosenthal is also careful to note that the Dodgers are still discussing Kemp with multiple clubs, and a deal with the Padres isn’t necessarily any more likely than it is with a different team yet.

The Padres have made a number of attempts to add an impact bat to their ranks this offseason but have fallen short in pursuits of both Pablo Sandoval and Yasmany Tomas. They were also linked to Adam LaRoche before he signed with the White Sox. Adding impact  bats on the open market is difficult for the Padres due to the fact that Petco Park is known to greatly suppress offense and perhaps also due to the team’s poor finishes over the past four seasons (eight or more games under .500 in each).

The remaining five years and $107MM on Kemp’s contract is a likely hurdle the Dodgers will need to overcome in any deal, but it’s in the same ballpark as the Padres’ offer to Sandoval, and as Rosenthal said, the Dodgers can kick in some cash to ease the contractual burden. Kemp has also been recently linked to the Orioles and Mariners, though the most recent indication was that Baltimore had gotten “nowhere” in talks for Kemp.

Grandal, on the other hand, is said to be among the Padres’ top trade chips, and the team is reportedly pushing him more aggressively than fellow backstops Rene Rivera and Austin Hedges. In the event that Grandal is traded, I’d expect the Padres to look at additional catchers (or perhaps take on the contract of A.J. Ellis, should a deal with the Dodgers be struck), as Hedges likely needs further minor league seasoning.


Dodgers Notes: Outfielders, Ogando, Non-Tenders

The Orioles, Padres and Mariners have shown interest in Matt Kemp, writes Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. However, one source tells Heyman that Baltimore has gotten “nowhere” in trade talks with Los Angeles. The Padres have spoken to the Dodgers about Kemp, and while the Dodgers may have some interest in top catching prospect Austin Hedges, Heyman feels San Diego is more inclined to move Rene Rivera or Yasmani Grandal. The Mariners may not have the budget after signing Nelson Cruz and extending Kyle Seager. Generally speaking, Heyman hears from rival executives that the Dodgers still seem reluctant to pull the trigger on any Kemp deal.

More Dodgers notes…

  • Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports looks at how much money the team would have to eat to move Kemp, Andre Ethier or Carl Crawford. Rosenthal estimates each player’s market value and notes that teams aren’t going to part with prospects for the right to pay an overpaid player at his true market rate. Rather, the Dodgers will need to pay down additional millions of dollars, meaning that a player like Ethier, in Rosenthal’s estimation, could need to be accompanied by as much as $30-36MM to facilitate the deal.
  • The Dodgers will take a look at recently non-tendered right-hander Alexi Ogando, reports Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles (Twitter link). However, as Saxon notes, Ogando figures to draw interest from many clubs. The righty is rehabbing from an elbow injury but has previously proven himself to be a capable starter or reliever.
  • In a more general sense, Saxon spoke with GM Farhan Zaidi (Twitter link), who noted that there are a lot of pitchers with high ceilings that were non-tendered as they rehab from injuries, and the Dodgers will look into those arms to see if there’s a match. Among the top names from the non-tender class include now-former Braves righties Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy (as well as Ogando).

Mariners Still Seeking Right Fielder

Earlier today, news broke that the Mariners and Nelson Cruz had agreed to a four-year deal. While some assumed that he would serve in an outfield capacity, Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune reports that the M’s prefer to use Cruz in a DH role and will still seek a right fielder from outside the organization. According to Dutton, two possibilities are free agents Torii Hunter and Alex Rios.

Dutton also reports that the Mariners still have interest in acquiring Matt Kemp from the Dodgers, but those talks have stalled due to Los Angeles’ insistence that one of Taijuan Walker or James Paxton be included in the deal. Additionally, he adds, the Orioles have shown increased interest in Kemp, presenting Seattle with competition to acquire his services.

One player whose name has surfaced in trade speculation is right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma, as many feel he could be a fit for the Red Sox in a potential swap for Yoenis Cespedes. However, ESPN’s Jayson Stark hears that Iwakuma is firmly unavailable, as the Mariners are looking to add to the club rather than subtract (Twitter link).

The Mariners feel they have the payroll flexibility to add Kemp (and thereby Hunter or Rios as well, of course) even after signing Cruz and working out a seven-year, $100MM extension for Kyle Seager. Kemp is owed $107MM over the next five seasons — a hefty investment for a power bat whose defensive skills appear to be diminishing as well.

Dutton’s report makes no mention of Justin Upton, although it would stand to reason that if Kemp is still in play, there would be continued interest in Upton as well, to whom the Mariners have been linked on multiple occasions. However, as Andy Martino of the New York Daily News tweeted after Cruz’s agreement, the Braves “almost certainly” would ask for Walker in exchange for Upton, so Seattle’s interest there figures to be limited until the asking price changes.

Both Hunter and Rios would provide a veteran right-handed bat to bring further balance to a lineup that was extremely left-handed in 2014. Hunter has recently been said to be considering the Mariners as well as the Rangers, Orioles, Royals and, to a lesser extent, the Twins. Rios, meanwhile, has yet to see his name surface in too many rumors, perhaps due to a down season at the plate (.280/.311/.398). The Mariners were said to consider him a fallback option earlier this month. Should the Mariners think on a larger scale, Melky Cabrera remains a free agent, and the price for parting with him is now slightly diminished, as Seattle would only need part with its second pick after forfeiting the No. 19 pick to sign Cruz.

In addition to the names listed, the Mariners do have a fairly strong in-house candidate in the form of Michael Saunders. However, Saunders is a left-handed bat and his relationship with the organization was strained after some postseason comments from GM Jack Zduriencik and manager Lloyd McClendon. The Mariners were said to be shopping Saunders as recently as last month’s GM Meetings, and those talks could of course be revisited at next week’s Winter Meetings.


AL East Notes: Orioles, Kemp, Blue Jays

Earlier today, we rounded up some items from the AL East.  Here’s the afternoon edition..

  • The Orioles have talked to the Dodgers about Matt Kemp, sources tell Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter). The O’s are lining up alternatives in case they can’t re-sign Nick Markakis and/or Nelson Cruz, but they could also be trying to create leverage to pressure both into staying.  As Rosenthal has said before, a Markakis return once appeared to be a foregone conclusion, but that’s no longer the case.
  • In a chat with Jim Bowden and Jim Duquette of SiriusXM, Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos downplayed his interest in the market’s top free agent relievers.  “I don’t know that you’re going to see us involved in some of the large big money deals,” AA said, according to Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet (via Twitter).
  • The Rays‘ trio of managerial finalists – Kevin Cash, Raul Ibanez, and Don Wakamatsu – is about as intriguing and outside-the-box as you can get, writes David Laurila of Fangraphs.  The Rays are in a transition period and Laurila writes that it’ll be fascinating to see how they proceed from here.

NL West Notes: Tomas, Padres Backstops, Kemp, Giants

The Giants were the runners up in the pursuit of Yasmany Tomas, who earlier today reportedly agreed to terms with the Diamondbacks, according to a Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports (via Twitter). For their $68.5MM, Arizona is getting a player with undeniable upside, ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick writes after speaking with three scouting sources.

  • The Padres are receiving a “ton of inquiries” on backstops Yasmani Grandal, Rene Rivera, and Austin Hedges, according to a tweet from Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Each member of that trio has his own particular appeal, along with factors that hold down their trade value.
  • In other Padres news, Rosenthal notes (Twitter links) that he has received additional confirmation that San Diego had engaged with talks on Matt Kemp with the Dodgers. He hastens to add that these discussions were not “that recent” and that nothing is close to getting done, as the Friars continue to turn over a number of rocks in search of upgrades after missing on Pablo Sandoval and Tomas. Los Angeles would presumably have interested in arms and catching were talks to move forward.
  • The Giants will indeed seek to apply the money they hoped to spend on Sandoval or Tomas toward another top-end free agent, John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle reported this morning (before the Tomas signing was reported). As reported yesterday, the club is opening a broad search for a way to bolster its roster, aided by a bloated purse from winning the team’s third World Series in five seasons.