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Matt Wieters Rumors
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.com. Alejandro 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.”
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.
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.
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.
The Orioles have announced that Matt Wieters is scheduled to undergo Tommy John surgery tomorrow and miss the remainder of the 2014 season. Recovery time for Wieters is estimated at nine months.
The news is a big blow for an Orioles team that hoped to have Wieters back in the middle of its lineup for a potential playoff push. The switch-hitting Wieters was off to the best start of his career in 2014, slashing .308/.339/.500 with five homers and five doubles through the season’s first 26 games (112 plate appearances).
Baltimore has been relying on Steve Clevenger, Caleb Joseph and the recently acquired Nick Hundley at the catcher position while Wieters has been on the shelf, but none of those players has provided any help on the offensive side of the game. In fact, they’ve combined to bat just .185/.253/.241 in 182 plate appearances. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Baltimore pursue further help on the trade market if none of that trio can turn it around at the dish, though that is speculation on my part.
Wieters projects to return for Opening Day 2015, so catchers on long-term deals might not make sense for Baltimore to pursue. Two potential options could be Minnesota’s Kurt Suzuki and Pittsburgh’s Russell Martin, should either the Twins or Pirates become sellers by next month’s deadline. For the time being, each team is within striking distance of a playoff spot.
Wieters is earning $7.7MM in 2014 as a second-time arbitration eligible player and remains under control through the 2015 campaign. He will be eligible for arbitration for the final time this offseason, meaning this injury will deflate his earning potential for his final year before free agency.
Notable talent evaluators from the Rays and Cubs were recently on hand to watch Blue Jays prospect Daniel Norris throw five scoreless innings in a high-A ball start, Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun reports. Norris, 21, was a second round draft pick for the Jays in 2011 and was ranked as the franchise’s sixth-best prospect by the 2014 Baseball America Prospect Handbook. The southpaw has a 1.22 ERA, 4.22 K/BB rate and 10.3 K/9 in 13 starts this season, and Elliott wonders if Norris or outfielder Dalton Pompey could be targeted by the Rays or Cubs as part of a trade package for David Price or Jeff Samardzija this summer. Both Elliott and two scouts feel the Jays (who are known to be looking for a pitching upgrade) need a power arm to be legitimate postseason contenders.
Here’s some more from around the AL East…
- Also from Elliott, he hears that the Cubs are asking for four players in return for Samardzjia. The Blue Jays had two evaluators present for Samardzija’s start against the Marlins on June 7th.
- The Rays are “looking like the strong favorites” to sign 15-year-old Dominican shortstop Adrian Rondon, Baseball America’s Ben Badler reports, though Rondon cannot sign until he turns 16 on July 7. Rondon, who is 6’2″ and 180 pounds, is expected to sign for around a $3MM bonus. Several scouts consider Rondon to be the best prospect available on the international market, with one scout even telling Badler that Rondon’s upside could make him “a Hanley Ramirez-type of offensive shortstop.”
- Nick Markakis “wants to play here for the rest of his life,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter told reporters (including MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko). The O’s have a $17.5MM club option on Markakis for 2015 that will very likely be bought out for $2MM, though Markakis’ strong play this season is putting him in good shape for a new multiyear contract.
- The Orioles expect Dr. James Andrews to recommend that Matt Wieters‘ right elbow will require Tommy John surgery when the catcher is examined later today, Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reports. Losing Wieters would obviously be a major blow to the O’s this season, and it would further complicate any plans they might have to sign Wieters to a contract extension (Wieters is under control through 2015).
- Two-thirds of the Red Sox roster could be trade candidates if the team decides to rebuild for 2015, Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe writes. Abraham’s list includes several relievers (including Koji Uehara), A.J. Pierzynski, David Ross, Stephen Drew, Jake Peavy and Jonny Gomes. While you could make a case for the likes of Jon Lester, Shane Victorino, Will Middlebrooks or Clay Buchholz to be dealt as well, Abraham feels these players are much longer shots to be traded.
- Red Sox GM Ben Cherington needs to make a move for a quality outfield bat before the season is lost, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe opines.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports has been plenty busy over the past few days, digging up rumors from all around the league. Here are some highlights from his latest work…
- Two sources tell Rosenthal that Matt Wieters‘ throwing program is going poorly and surgery is looking more likely (Twitter links). A third source, however, cautions that it’s too soon to make that judgment, adding that Wieters has good days and also bad days at this time.
- In this weekend’s Full Count video, he notes that while many were shocked by Max Scherzer‘s decision to turn down $144MM in an attempt to secure more on next year’s free agent market, Scherzer has an insurance policy on his right arm that Scherzer says “takes the injury risk out of it.” While the policy likely doesn’t cover the full amount of that offer, it sounds to be a substantial amount. Rosenthal adds that Jon Lester has a similar policy, though not for nearly as much money as Scherzer’s policy.
- Some friends of Jimmy Rollins feel that he’ll be willing to waive his 10-and-5 rights to approve a trade once he passes Mike Schmidt for the franchise lead in hits. Others feel he and his wife, a Philadelphia native, prefer to stay no matter what. Of course, Rollins’ $11MM vesting option damages his trade value as well, as he will easily reach the required plate appearances if he stays healthy.
- The Giants are looking to upgrade at second base this summer. While they could use a starting pitcher, they aren’t likely to make an addition that would turn Tim Lincecum into a $17MM bullpen arm. The Athletics, on the other hand, could use a starting pitching upgrade and have the necessary catching depth to make a move.
- The Orioles are willing to move Delmon Young, who is batting .286/.318/.369 and has lost most of his plate appearances to Steve Pearce. While Young isn’t the hitter than Kendrys Morales is, Rosenthal lists him as a low-cost alternative to teams that missed out on Morales; Young is set to earn about $600K over the rest of the season.
With Matt Wieters now on the disabled list with an elbow injury, Orioles manager Buck Showalter confirms that the team is only the lookout for more catching, MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko writes. Showalter says, however, that the team is being cautious about pursuing trades. “Obviously, I’m not going to insult your intelligence,” Showalter says. “But it’s not like something you snap your fingers and people are going to bend over and give you what you need.”
FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal wrote yesterday that the Orioles, who now have Steve Clevenger and Caleb Joseph behind the dish, were looking for a backup catcher. USA Today’s Bob Nightengale also noted that the team could deal pitcher Troy Patton, perhaps for a catcher.
In the meantime, it’s unclear when Wieters will be able to return to the position, as MLB.com’s Britt Ghiroli reports. “Nobody knows exactly what’s going to happen tomorrow,” Wieters says. “We’re just going to go every day, come here ready to work, ready to rehab and when I’m ready I’m ready.”
Orioles executive VP Dan Duquette appeared on Buster Olney’s podcast today and discussed a variety of topics, including Kendrys Morales (Duquette appears around the 27:00 mark). Asked by Olney about the speculation that Morales could help his team, Duquette replied, “We don’t have any plans to add anybody to our ball club right now … Matt Wieters, with the issue he has in with his elbow, is going to take some at-bats in our DH position, so we’re all set. When we signed Nelson Cruz, that pretty much closed the door on that speculation.” Duquette also talked about his team’s strong start to the year in spite of several injuries as well as Manny Machado‘s elite defense. More from that interview and the rest of the AL East below…
- Duquette also fielded questions on the contract status of Wieters and Chris Davis (around the 36:20 mark), noting that the club has twice tried to extend Wieters and once tried to extend Davis as well. “I like Chris and Matt on the ball club, but having said that, we’ve already made that effort, and I’m not really going to be discussing that this year during the season with those players.” Both Wieters and Davis are Scott Boras clients, which makes the task of hammering out a long-term deal a more difficult one, as Boras typically encourages his players to go year-to-year and test the open market.
- Shifting gears from the O’s to the Blue Jays, MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm tweets that the main reason behind Juan Francisco choosing to sign in Toronto was a recruiting pitch from Edwin Encarnacion. After Francisco was cut by the Brewers in Spring Training, Encarnacion called his countryman and pitched Toronto, and the result has been a .311/.403/.623 batting line with five homers in 72 PAs for Francisco.
- In a special piece for ESPN New York, Danny Knobler writes that the perception of the Yankees as an “old-school” team is misleading. Knobler spoke with Astros GM Jeff Luhnow, who called the Yankees “way more [progressive] than people think.” Knobler also points out that the Yankees trail only the Astros in terms of infield shifting this season, a fact that isn’t lost on division rival Joe Maddon. The Rays skipper told Knobler: “They’re exceeding us. It doesn’t surprise me. It disappoints me. I much preferred when they thought we were nuts, that we were bastardizing the game.”