Matt Wieters Rumors

Possible Qualifying Offer Players Who Could Be Dealt

Next year’s free agent market contains plenty of players who could receive qualifying offers — David Price, Jordan Zimmermann, Jason Heyward, and others. Here’s a look at potential qualifying offer recipients who have the best chance of being traded this season, thus preventing them from receiving that designation.

At issue, of course, is draft pick compensation and forfeiture. A team extending a qualifying offer to a player receives a draft pick in return if the player signs elsewhere. The signing team also gives up a draft pick. But a player who has been traded in the season before he becomes a free agent can’t be extended a qualifying offer and thus isn’t attached to draft picks. That can be an important consideration for teams shopping for free agents, as we’ve seen in recent years in the cases of Kyle Lohse, Nelson Cruz, Ervin Santana, Stephen Drew and Kendrys Morales, whose markets have all shrunk in part because of the qualifying offer.

Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake, Reds. The Reds are off to a 4-0 start but still aren’t that likely to contend, which means that Cueto and Leake could hit the free agent market this summer. Trading Cueto, in particular, would be a great way for the Reds to add to their collection of young talent. Leake might be somewhat trickier to trade, since the Reds’ return might not be worth that much more than the draft pick and negotiating leverage they would forgo by dealing him.

Ben Zobrist and Scott Kazmir, Athletics. Billy Beane’s trade for Zobrist this offseason was a somewhat surprising one to begin with. The Athletics could easily contend, but if they don’t, Beane seems unlikely to sit still, and finding a new home for Zobrist wouldn’t be difficult given his versatility. Kazmir is another possibility — if he performs at his 2014 levels, he could receive a qualifying offer if the A’s contend or be traded if they don’t.

Alex Gordon, Royals. The Royals haven’t discussed an extension with Gordon, who would undoubtedly be an attractive trade target if the Royals were to fall out of contention in the AL Central. They’re currently 4-0, however, and there’s still the matter of Gordon’s $12.5MM option. Exercising it would likely not be an optimal financial decision from Gordon’s perspective, but he’s expressed interest in doing so before. If he were to make clear to the Royals that he planned to do so, he almost certainly wouldn’t be a trade candidate.

Justin Upton and Ian Kennedy, Padres. San Diego gambled heavily this offseason on the Padres’ ability to win in 2015. If they don’t, A.J. Preller doesn’t seem like the sort of GM to hang onto two key players who are due to become free agents. One possibility if the Padres were to trade Kennedy or especially Upton would be to acquire big-league talent in return, much like the Red Sox did when they dealt Jon Lester last summer. That would enable the Padres to re-tool for 2016, when they’ll still control most of the players they acquired over the winter.

Yovani Gallardo, Rangers. The Brewers exercised what was effectively a $12.4MM 2015 option ($13MM minus a $600K buyout) before trading Gallardo to Texas. His market value likely is somewhere near the value of a qualifying offer, and extending him one wouldn’t be a bad idea for the Rangers if he performs well this season. They could easily trade him rather than doing that, although that might be somewhat difficult given all the higher-impact starters who might be available and the value that would disappear if the ability to extend Gallardo a qualifying offer were to vanish.

Jeff Samardzija, White Sox. The new-look White Sox are 0-4, and GM Rick Hahn has said he will be “nimble” in turning his attention to the future if the organization’s moves to contend this summer don’t work out. That might mean Samardzija could be traded for the third time in a year. He would likely command significant value on the trade market.

Chris Davis and Matt Wieters, Orioles. Davis and Wieters are worth watching, although it’s somewhat unlikely that they’re valuable enough to receive qualifying offers and that they become trade candidates. Davis had a down season in 2014, while Wieters continues to struggle with health problems (and there’s currently no timetable for his return from an elbow injury). If Davis and Wieters are productive and healthy, the Orioles could well contend, and thus it’s unlikely they’ll be traded. If they aren’t, they might not be qualifying offer candidates.


Injury Notes: Henderson, Wheeler, Rasmus, Wieters

Yesterday, we learned the Brewers had re-assigned reliever Jim Henderson to minor league camp. Milwaukee has rescinded the decision and will instead keep him in major league camp, reports Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The move was made for a couple reasons. The Brewers will place him on the disabled list and can backdate the move. It also allows Henderson to maintain “continuity of treatment” with the major league strength and conditioning team. Though he remains in major league camp, he will only pitch in minor league games for the remainder of spring.

  • The Mets didn’t discuss Zack Wheeler in trade scenarios this offseason because they believed any deal would be scuttled upon reviewing medicals, writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Rival executives were left with an impression that Wheeler was part of a protected core. In actuality, a torn tendon, multiple MRIs, and a PRP injection led the Mets to believe a deal was out of reach. With this information in hand, it’s easy to understand why the club kept Dillon Gee on hand as a sixth starter.
  • Angels pitcher Cory Rasmus will miss the next six to eight weeks with a core injury, reports Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com. The injury, which has bothered him on and off for years, will require surgery. Rasmus was used as a swingman last season, pitching to a 2.57 ERA with 9.16 K/9 and 2.73 BB/9. He was expected to contribute to the bullpen.
  • While tests have come back clean, Orioles catcher Matt Wieters is expected to open the season on the disabled list, writes Mark Townsend of Yahoo.com. The club is eyeing a 10-month rehab program, which would have Wieters return to action in mid-April. Manager Buck Showalter says hitting negatively affects his rehab, so he won’t be used as a designated hitter while he recovers.

AL East Notes: Wieters, Castillo, Sanchez, Jays, Rays

The Orioles got good news on Matt Wieters today, whose elbow X-ray came back clean, as Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun tweets. While his new UCL will obviously handled with care, that is good news for the top catcher in next year’s free agent class.

Here’s more from the AL East:

  • Red Sox outfielder Rusney Castillo still hopes to be able to get enough work in this spring to be ready to make the Opening Day roster, as Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald reports. But with the time he has lost to an oblique strain, the outstanding play of Mookie Betts, and the team’s otherwise less flexible group of plausible big league outfielders, it seems that a stint at Triple-A is certainly possible — in spite of his huge salary. Castillo says he “wouldn’t feel bad about that at all if that’s the decision that’s made.” As Lauber notes, Boston’s outfield situation remains a fascinating story line as the season fast approaches.
  • Another interesting situation to watch — the Blue Jays staff makeup — is gaining some clarity, as Brendan Kennedy of the Toronto Star reports. Aaron Sanchez is highly likely to open in the rotation, according to manager John Gibbons, with Marco Estrada and Daniel Norris still in the mix for the last starting spot. Meanwhile, it appears that fellow youngster Miguel Castro is headed for a slot in the pen. Those much-hyped arms all saw their timelines accelerated when fellow young right-hander Marcus Stroman went down to an ACL tear; he had successful surgery today.
  • Meanwhile, Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos said today on The Fan 590 that the club could still look around for another option at first, as Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca tweets. The team currently appears set to utilize Justin Smoak and, potentially, Daric Barton at the position when Edwin Encarnacion is in the DH slot. Given Encarnacion’s back issues, that could be more often than not in the season’s early going. The team’s decisions regarding catcher Dioner Navarro could also factor into things, as he could potentially take a bench role if he is not dealt.
  • Rays owner Stuart Sternberg said today that he is still not seeing progress on stadium talks, as Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports. Emphasizing that he sees a future for the organization in the greater Tampa area, Sternberg nevertheless expressed frustration with opposition that has been encountered from the St. Petersburg City Council regarding issues relating to the team’s quest to find a new park.


AL East Notes: Red Sox, Craig, Wieters, Bailey, Tanaka

Here’s the latest from the American League East:

  • The Red Sox risk losing a chance to acquire Cole Hamels of the Phillies by waiting to deal for him, writes Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. While it is too early to judge the team’s current rotation, results — and, perhaps more importantly, reviews from rival scouts — have been less than promising.
  • Meanwhile, the Red Sox are still “trying to find a trade partner” for first baseman/outfielder Allen Craig, per Cafardo. He notes that the club has assigned several “top pro scouts” to watch the Giants, Padres, and Cubs recently, though it is not entirely clear that all of those clubs could match up on Craig.
  • Orioles catcher Matt Wieters will be shut down for about a week after experiencing tendinitis in his surgically-repaired right elbow after his first stint behind the dish, Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun reports. Manage Buck Showalter said that he does not see the news as a setback, and indicated that the move was made as an exercise of caution. Wieters’ ability to return to his usually sturdy work with the mask on is critical not only to the team’s hopes this year, but also to his free agent case after the season.
  • Reliever Andrew Bailey made his return to competitive action today for the Yankees, with Chad Jennings of the LoHud Yankees Blog tweeting that Bailey’s fastball sat in the low 90s in his inning of work. Meanwhile, Masahiro Tanaka continued to show strong form this spring, as Jennings further reports. If both of those arms can prove healthy and effective, the club’s run prevention efforts will obviously receive a significant boost. While Tanaka pitched much of last season before being shut down with a partial UCL tear, Bailey has not thrown a big league pitch since 2013 and represents pure upside for New York.

Cafardo On Wieters, Bradley, Giants

In today’s column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes that the Red Sox spent a lot of time with Jon Lester trying to get him over his fear of throwing to bases.  It’s an issue that the Cubs will have to address if it arises again and Cafardo is surprised that more opposing teams haven’t tried to pounce on that perceived weakness.  That could change, however, as he hears that one team already is looking forward to testing him this season.  Here’s more from today’s column..

  • Orioles GM Dan Duquette twice has tried to engage in extension talks with Matt Wieters’s agent, Scott Boras, but now it doesn’t appear that the sides will get together before Wieters becomes a free agent.  After missing most of 2014, Wieters will earn $8.3MM in his final year of arbitration.  The 28-year-old was hitting .308/.339/.500 in 112 plate appearances before right elbow issues forced him to undergo Tommy John surgery.
  • Scouts are beginning to at least discuss what the Red Sox may need to receive in order to part with Jackie Bradley in a trade.  The Sox don’t appear to be in that mode right now, but there are teams who feel Bradley will turn things around at the plate because he’s hit at every level except the majors. “I think Chili Davis is going to be good for him,” said one scout of Boston’s new hitting coach. “I think he needs someone with a tough approach and Chili isn’t afraid to give someone some tough love.”  There has been a great deal of trade talk around Bradley this offseason and Joel Sherman of the New York Post recently suggested that the Braves could make sense as a landing spot.
  • Giants assistant GM Bobby Evans told Cafardo that the team offered James Shields a five-year, $80MM contract not long after Jon Lester agreed to join the Cubs.Evans said that Shields wanted time to explore other offers, however, and the timing wasn’t right.  A previous report indicated that the Giants made Shields a four-year, $80MM pitch, which is the same length as his deal with the Padres, but worth $5MM more.  Shields’ agent Page Odle said in February that his client received more than one offer with a higher AAV than the one he ultimately accepted from the Padres.
  • Before Daniel Bard signed a minor league deal with the Cubs this winter, the Red Sox considered bringing him back.  Now that early reports are indicating that Bard is throwing hard and possibly cured of the yips that have troubled him the last couple of years, the Cubs must be glad that they decided to give him another chance.
  • While many scouts believe that the Dodgers’ offense won’t be as productive without Matt Kemp, many also believe that he will hurt the Padres‘ defense.  “Everyone raves about the Padres with Kemp, but they’re going to find some things they’re not going to like, and I’ll leave it at that,” said one scout.  For his career, Kemp has a -13.9 UZR/150 rating in the outfield.

Injury Notes: Darvish, Minor, Collins, Edgin, Turner, Wieters

There is a silver lining to the Yu Darvish injury for the Rangers, as Dave Cameron of Fangraphs writes. In short, if Darvish undergoes a UCL replacement, he will be nearly certain not to trigger any of the award-based opt-out provisions in his contract. Thus, while Texas would lose his services for 2015, they would in all likelihood gain him for 2017 — when, it might be hoped, the team will be in better shape for contention.

We have already seen significant injury news relating to four other pitchers today, and that’s not all:

  • The Braves got a positive update on starter Mike Minor as Dr. James Andrews concurred with club orthopedist Javier Duralde that an MRI showed no structural issues with Minor’s left shoulder, as David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. Minor will nevertheless sit out at least two weeks to rest his arm, and president of baseball operations John Hart says that the team will likely turn to internal options to fill in.
  • Andrews will take a look at another arm tomorrow when Tim Collins of the Royals checks in, Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star tweets. An MRI has already showed ligament damage to his left elbow. The final determination of whether he’ll undergo Tommy John surgery could have fairly significant ramifications for the club not only this year but into the future, as youngster Brandon Finnegan could be pressed back into relief duty.
  • Another club with a possible LOOGY issue is the Mets, whose top southpaw reliever Josh Edgin will undergo an MRI after experiencing a velocity drop and elbow soreness, as The Record’s Matt Ehalt reports. Missed time from Edgin would figure to pose difficulties given the team’s relative dearth of southpaw depth. As Ehalt explains, Scott Rice is in on a minor league deal and provides an option, while Rule 5 pick Sean Gilmartin is joined by fellow youngsters Jack Leathersich and Dario Alvarez on the 40-man roster.
  • Jacob Turner of the Cubs has been shut down with a flexor strain and bone bruise in his right elbow, as ESPNChicago.com’s Jesse Rogers tweets. The out-of-options Turner was probably destined for the Chicago ‘pen after the club claimed him off waivers late last year and picked up his $1MM option for 2015. It would appear that a DL stint will likely be in the cards for the start of the year, which in some ways gives the team more flexibility to give Turner a chance to start during a rehab period.
  • Orioles backstop Matt Wieters is just one week away from getting back behind the dish for a spring game, as Rich Dubroff of CSNBaltimore.com reports. Nearing a full return from Tommy John surgery, Wieters has already advanced to throwing to second at as much as 80% in practice. Given the rehab process he has just endured, the free agent-to-be says that his next contract is not where his focus is at present, as Peter Schmuck of the Baltimore Sun writes.

Orioles Notes: Payroll, De Aza, Machado, Wieters

We’ve already heard from the Orioles today, but here’s more news as their FanFest continues:

  • Manager Buck Showalter told reporters, including CSNBaltimore’s Rich Dubroff, that the Orioles will have the flexibility to add players during the season. Payroll is currently right around $120MM. The club could also look for spring training additions. Earlier today, we learned the O’s are still searching for relief help.
  • Showalter also said the Orioles’ leadoff hitter is likely on the roster, reports Steve Melewski of MASNSports.comAlejandro De Aza is a possible candidate, although Showalter was noncommittal when asked outright about the lefty. He did seemingly imply that De Aza would bat first or ninth when in the lineup. Asked specifically about De Aza, Showalter said “if you asked what is a more important spot in our order, one or nine, I’d probably say nine.”
  • Third baseman Manny Machado is prepared to return to action by the start of spring training, writes Melewski in a separate article. The 22-year-old is recovering from a partial tear to a ligament in his right knee. He already suffered a similar injury to his left knee earlier in his career.
  • Another injured Oriole, catcher Matt Wieters, believes he’ll be ready by opening day, reports Britt Ghiroli of MLB.com. Wieters underwent Tommy John surgery last June. He’ll likely spend more time as a designated hitter this spring as he gets his arm back to full strength. In the final year of club control, Wieters is focused on the long haul. “The main thing is we have to get the arm healthy enough to play the rest of my career.”

Orioles Avoid Arbitration With Wieters, Davis, Tillman, Matusz

The Orioles have avoided arbitration by agreeing on one year deals with three players, according to reports. Catcher Matt Wieters, corner infielder/outfielder Chris Davis, righty Chris Tillman, and lefty Brian Matusz all have reached terms for 2015.

After missing most of 2014, Wieters will earn $8.3MM in his final year of arbitration, according to ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick (via Twitter). That represents a $600K bump over his salary last year, a much lower figure than would have been expected coming into the season. The 28-year-old saw only 112 plate appearances, slashing an impressive .308/.339/.500 in that short sample, before succumbing to right elbow issues that ultimately required Tommy John surgery.

Davis also will receive a much lower raise than seemed likely before 2014, in his case due to performance issues and a late-season suspension. He will take home $12MM, up from $10.35MM last year, per Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun (Twitter link). MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz was right on the mark with a $11.8MM projection for the slugger. Davis can also earn bonuses of $150K upon his 500th and 575th trips to the plate and $50K each for an All-Star appearance, Gold Glove award, or Silver Slugger nod.

Tillman, meanwhile, has settled for $4.315MM, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets. Connolly was first to report (on Twitter) that a deal had been reached. The 26-year-old becomes the second-highest-paid first-time arb-eligible starter in MLB history. As Swartz wrote recently, Tillman seemed likely to come in just under the record, and fall shy of the $5.4MM projection that Swartz’s model produced.

As for Matusz, he will play for $3.2MM next year, Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com tweets. That constitutes a nice increase over Swartz’s projection of $3.2MM. Soon to turn 28, Matusz was again effective from the pen last year, tossing 51 2/3 frames of 3.48 ERA ball.


AL East Notes: Wieters, Rays, Yankees

The Silver Shield Foundation, a charity established by the late Yankee owner George Steinbrenner, will pay for the education of the two children of slain NYPD officer Rafael Ramos, reports Bill Madden and Teri Thompson of the New York Daily News. The foundation was started by Steinbrenner and former Olympian Jim Fuchs 32 years ago and, among other services (per the foundation’s website), pays for the education of the children of all members of the Fire Department of the City of New York; Police Department of the City of New York; Port Authority of New York/New Jersey Police Department; New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut State Police; police departments of Nassau and Suffolk Counties; and all police departments in Connecticut who died in the line of duty, as well as 700 children who lost a parent on September 11, 2001. Ramos was killed yesterday with his partner Wenjian Liu (who didn’t have any children) by a lone gunman in Brooklyn.

Here’s the latest news and notes from the American League East:

  • Yankees GM Brian Cashman has taken some huge gambles with his offseason moves (getting younger and stockpiling power arms) which belie the organization’s long held win-now, World Series or bust philosophy, opines Madden in a separate article.
  • Scott Boras tells Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe (via Twitter) Orioles catcher Matt Wieters will be ready by Opening Day. Earlier today, Cafardo reported there is no urgency on either side in negotiating an extension.
  • The Rays‘ search for offense in the wake of the Wil Myers trade is limited to what remains of the outfield free agent market or obtaining a player whose team will eat almost all the salary on a bad contract, writes the Tampa Bay Times’ Marc Topkin. Alex Rodriguez, Ryan Howard, and B.J. Upton fit the latter category, according to Topkin.

Cafardo On Shields, Scherzer, Wieters, Tulowitzki

In today’s column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe touches on Nathan Eovaldi, one of the newest members of the Yankees.  Marlins catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia feels that the young pitcher has only scratched the surface of what he can do.  “At the end of the year he figured out how to throw a new pitch that is really going to help him. He throws hard and all of his pitches are hard, so this new pitch will help that out because he’s got a fastball rotation with split action,” Salty said.  More from today’s column..

  • James Shields is asking for a contract close to the five years and $110MM remaining (if the option is picked up) on the Cole Hamels deal, one major league source who was privy to Shields’s demands told Cafardo.  The Giants and Red Sox are in the picture, and the Yankees may be another suitor.
  • Many baseball execs feel that Max Scherzer will end up back with the Tigers.  The executives Cafardo spoke with think that Scherzer will top Jon Lester‘s six-year, $155MM pact but fall well short of $200MM, unless option years are counted.
  • When it comes to Orioles catcher Matt Wieters, there seems no urgency on either side to visit a possible extension.  Wieters’s return should be huge for the Orioles, but agent Scott Boras will likely not consider anything until the end of the season.
  • Cafardo checked in with Mets officials regarding the recent Troy Tulowitzki rumors and none of them felt that there was anything to them.
  • Agent Alan Nero tells Cafardo that he is having a lot of dialogue with teams about Asdrubal Cabrera but nothing has come together just yet.  Cafardo suggests that Cabrera could take a one-year deal somewhere to re-establish his value.
  • Padres outfielder Carlos Quentin is the odd man out in San Diego with Matt Kemp, Wil Myers, and Justin Upton in the fold.  The Orioles, Mariners, and Rays could be trade candidates for Quentin, who hasn’t played 100 games since 2011.  He’d be a solid DH candidate and Seattle could also use him in right field from time to time.  Of course, with an $8MM salary in 2015 and a $10MM option in 2016 that comes with a $3MM buyout, the Padres will have to eat some money to move him.