Matt Garza Rumors
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.
The Orioles would like to add a veteran starter, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, but it doesn't appear they'll be a player on what many assume will be the biggest names on the trade market. Heyman says the Orioles spending $25MM per year on Cliff Lee is "out of the question," nor would they consider trading Dylan Bundy or Kevin Gausman. Additionally, the O's "appear to have little to no interest" in the Cubs' Matt Garza.
Orioles pitching coordinator Rick Peterson "very much likes" the Brewers' Yovani Gallardo from Peterson's time as that team's pitching coach, says Heyman, yet Baltimore's interest in Gallardo "doesn't seem strong at all right now."
Heyman speculates on a few other lower-tier names, such as Josh Johnson, Ricky Nolasco, Bud Norris, and Jason Vargas. I'll add Scott Feldman, Carlos Villanueva, Jake Peavy, Jason Marquis, Kevin Correia, Kevin Slowey, Kyle Lohse, Erik Bedard, Joe Saunders, Edinson Volquez, Lucas Harrell, Mark Buehrle, Shaun Marcum, Aaron Harang, and Mike Pelfrey as a slew of others working for teams that aren't contending now or may not be come July. Ian Kennedy is one other name to watch, should the D'Backs decide they can spare him.
The city of Anaheim and the Angels have begun discussions about renovating Angel Stadium and keeping the Angels in Anaheim, Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times reports. There were, of course, tensions between the two sides when, years ago, Angels owner Arte Moreno changed the name of the team to include Los Angeles, but Anaheim mayor Tom Tait sounds ready to let bygones be bygones. "It makes sense to move along, to put the past in the past and work for the future," he says. The Angels can leave Anaheim after 2016, Shaikin notes, but it sounds like both sides are committed to keeping the Angels where they are. Here are more notes from around the majors.
- The Angels have done well recently, but the former teams of big-name Angels free agent signings Josh Hamilton and Albert Pujols have been even better, CBS.com's Scott Miller notes. The Angels signed Hamilton and C.J. Wilson from the Rangers, but Texas now has the second-best record in the Majors, in part because it used the money it saved on Wilson to get Yu Darvish. The Cardinals, from whom the Angels signed Pujols, currently have the best record in the big leagues.
- Royals manager Ned Yost is trying to "stay positive and stay supportive," Sam Mellinger of the Kansas City Star reports. The Royals' recent struggles -- they're now 21-26 and have lost five in a row -- have led to questions about Yost's job security. Still, Mellinger writes that Yost will keep his job as long as the clubhouse remains upbeat.
- Yost spoke with Royals owner David Glass on Sunday, Dick Kaegel of MLB.com writes, noting that it's not particularly unusual for Yost and Glass to meet. "Mr. Glass has frustrations like all of us. He wants to win as much or more than any of us," says Yost. "I'm glad he came down."
- When the newly-promoted Michael Blazek makes his big-league debut, he'll become the 9th 25-or-younger pitcher for the Cardinals this year, Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com notes. That 25-or-younger crowd includes top prospects Shelby Miller and Carlos Martinez, along with flamethrowing reliever Trevor Rosenthal.
- A number of Cubs players could be headed to other team in July, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times writes. Wittenmyer's list of potential departures includes Scott Feldman, Kevin Gregg, David DeJesus, Matt Garza and Carlos Marmol. Feldman, DeJesus, Garza and Marmol all figured in Tim Dierkes' recent poll about which high-profile players will be traded this summer, and so did another Cub, Alfonso Soriano. Wittenmyer notes that Garza could also receive an extension or a qualifying offer if the Cubs don't like what they're offered on the trade market.
Matt Garza made his second start since being activated from the disabled list, but it didn't go as well as his five shutout innings in his season debut last Tuesday versus the Pirates. Garza, number eight on MLBTR's 2014 Free Agent Power Rankings, needed 92 pitches (52 for strikes) to cover four innings against the Reds. The right-hander struck out seven but allowed four runs on four hits with four walks (one intentional), one HBP, and a wild pitch. Garza received a no-decision as the Cubs rallied for a 5-4 victory in 10 innings snapping their six-game losing streak. In other North Side news:
- The present for the Cubs has fallen into the abyss and the future is flush with questions, opines Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune. Sullivan points to no hints ownership will increase payroll and a farm system which remains bereft of pitching talent at the upper levels and that would-be stars such as outfielder Brett Jackson and third baseman Josh Vitters have yet to pan out.
- Within the same piece, Sullivan writes there's no chance manager Dale Sveum will be fired, as team President Theo Epstein believes the coaching staff has done a "fine" job.
- The Cubs will have the second overall selection in the June 6 amateur draft, but Epstein warns not to pin the hopes of the franchise on that player. "There are some promising players on the way, but we have a lot of work to do," Epstein told Sullivan. "The No. 2 pick is a great opportunity, but one player by himself cannot make a system."
- The Cubs are eyeing pitchers Jonathan Gray of Oklahoma and Mark Appel of Stanford and third basemen Kris Bryant of San Diego and Colin Moran of North Carolina with that pick, reports MLB.com's Carrie Muskat. Manager Dale Sveum has been watching video of the quartet and provides Muskat with a brief scouting report on each.
- With the Crosstown Classic against the White Sox beginning tomorrow, former South Side manager Ozzie Guillen said recently he would be willing to be a coach for the Cubs. Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times tweeted Sveum's response, "I don't have no openings on my staff."
Jaime Garcia will undergo season-ending shoulder surgery on Friday, writes Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Heyman goes on to write that Dr. James Andrews was amazed that Garcia was able to pitch anywhere near as well as he did, as the left-hander has a "30-40 percent tear" of the labrum in his left shoulder. Garcia is in the second year of a four-year, $27.5MM contract that he signed in June 2011. His deal contains a pair of club options as well. Here's more on the Cardinals and the NL Central...
- While Garcia is done for the year, the Cardinals are hopeful that Chris Carpenter can return in July, according to Scott Miller of CBS Sports. Carpenter, who looked all but certain to retire just two months ago, is up to 80 pitches in his intense bullpen sessions. He's yet to face hitters, writes Miller, but there's an outside chance that he could be in the rotation prior to the All-Star break.
- "Let the debate begin," writes ESPN Chicago's Jesse Rogers, referring to the split opinion among fans on whether or not the Cubs should sign or trade Matt Garza. It's not immediately clear whether or not the Cubs will try to retain Garza, Rogers adds.
- One NL scout who was watching Garza's start against the Pirates last night texted Danny Knobler of CBS Sports and said, "I'd take him NOW." Knobler notes that the scout was half-kidding, as Garza hasn't proven his durability yet, but the right-hander carried a no-hitter into the fifth inning against the Buccos last night.
With one-fourth of the season in the books, let's have a look around some injury situations and how they might impact the developing trade market.
- The Cardinals and Yankees provide an interesting case study as we enter the second quarter of the season. Both have excellent records and lead their division. Both have sizeable payrolls as well as large portions of those payrolls sitting idle on the DL. Both have had to insert players onto their active roster that they did not anticipate. But, as Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch well explains, the source of those substitute bodies has been drastically different. While the Yankees spent well over $20MM to bring in players like Lyle Overbay, Kevin Youkilis, Travis Hafner, and Vernon Wells -- all of whom are 34 or older -- the Cards reached into their minor league system. Remarkably, St. Louis has plugged all of its holes with players making league minimum, including young pitchers John Gast, Shelby Miller, and Seth Maness.
- The Goold piece also includes some valuable insight from GM John Mozeliak. According to Mozeliak, amongst the team's Double-A and Triple-A rosters, "there is almost at any one position, if we needed help at the big leagues, someone we could call on from there." He acknowledges that such cheap, youthful depth cannot always be achieved, and says the team is prepared to pursue other markets as necessary. "I don't want us to go down the path where we feel like we've created this functional model and don't utilize a really robust pro scouting model that makes sure we understand the trade market and understand the free agent market. We can't be scared of those." Yet, by looking internally first, the team has managed to retain salary flexibility to add outside impact down the line. "This organization's way now of staying healthy is not being tied to those outside markets to fill needs," says Mozeliak. "Having some young players step up like they are now gives us additional flexibility when we're going to need it."
- The Cards' internal depth will once again be put to use with starter Jaime Garcia now staring at a strong possibility of season-ending shoulder surgery, writes Goold. Even with fellow starter Jake Westbrook also stuck on the DL, the team has multiple options among its current relief corps and Triple-A rotation that make a look outside the organization unlikely. Of course, it remains to be seen whether Garcia's replacement(s) can match his strong start to the year. He had thrown 55 1/3 innings of 3.58 ERA baseball to open the season. Veteran starter Chris Carpenter is increasingly shaping up as a viable mid-season option for the club. But any setback in his surprising recovery, or hiccups among the team's young hurlers, could lead St. Louis to consider eventually utilizing some of its salary reserves and young minor league depth in a trade.
- The Braves are another National League contender dealing with injured arms. As Matt Snyder of CBSSports.com's Matt Snyder writes, Eric O'Flaherty appears likely to join fellow setup man Jonny Venters as a season-ending Tommy John patient. While the team seems likely to utilize internal options to fill in for the present, the loss of its two late-inning lefties leaves the team with just one southpaw in the pen, Luis Avilan. Ultimately, then, Atlanta could be forced to explore the trade market to re-establish its depth as the season wears on.
- Teams shopping for starters at the trade deadline appear likely to find a limited supply of attractive arms, says ESPN.com's Buster Olney (Insider subscription required). Two Cubs pitchers headline the developing market, with Scott Feldman shaping up as the surprise top option at the moment. (Matt Garza, of course, will begin his potential audition on Tuesday.) In addition to several other well-documented trade candidates in Ricky Nolasco of the Marlins and the Astros' Bud Norris and Lucas Harrell, Olney pegs the Padres' Jason Marquis and Edinson Volquez as likely available. Meanwhile, Bartolo Colon of the Athletics and Cliff Lee of the Phillies could also be dealt, writes Olney, with the A's having other internal options and the Phils still weighing how to proceed with their excellent (but expensive) 35-year-old co-ace.
Ken Rosenthal's new video for FOX Sports offers a variety of trade tidbits on the Cubs, Brewers and Marlins.
- Matt Garza of the Cubs makes an intriguing trade candidate, but Rosenthal says that one can't rule out the possibility that the Cubs will keep Garza and extend him a qualifying offer at the end of the season, hoping to collect draft-pick compensation. Scott Feldman might also be traded, but Rosenthal notes that his peripherals indicate he has been lucky so far.
- Alfonso Soriano has only one year left on his eight-year, $136MM contract, which could make him a more attractive trade target than in years past, Rosenthal notes, but Soriano also has a no-trade clause, allowing him to control his destination.
- The Brewers, meanwhile, have fewer trade options, Rosenthal argues. Corey Hart is hurt, Rickie Weeks is in the midst of a poor season, and Aramis Ramirez is owed $16MM in 2014 and has a $4MM buyout on his mutual option the following season. The Brewers will be "reluctant" to trade Yovani Gallardo, whose contract carries him through next season and gives the Brewers an option on his services in 2015.
- The Marlins have received calls on relievers Steve Cishek, Ryan Webb and Mike Dunn, Rosenthal reports.
Let's take a look around the National League ...
- Pitcher Tim Stauffer was called up by the Padres, meaning that the team will not risk losing him to a June 1 opt-out clause, notes Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune. Returning for the second time in his career from major arm surgery, Stauffer was thrown right into the fire and worked 1 2/3 effective innings last night against the Nationals.
- Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. believes his club has the pieces in place to be much better offensively and is not looking for outside help at the moment, Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com reports. "I don't see us making any trades any time soon," Amaro said. "There's too many teams that are in it, not enough teams that are out of it." Amaro is preaching patience with struggling hitters like Delmon Young and Ryan Howard: "Right now we have to be patient to see if Delmon starts swinging it. And Ryan [Howard] is going to have to start swinging it. If those guys do then we'll be OK. If they don't we'll have to figure out what we're going to do." As Salisbury notes, the Phillies rank near the bottom of baseball in most major offensive categories, including on-base percentage (.304, 25th); OPS (.683, 26th); and runs scored (3.61, 27th).
- Prospective free agent Matt Garza will make his season debut for the Cubs this Tuesday, tweets Bruce Miles of the Daily Herald. Garza, who last checked in at eighth on Tim Dierkes's 2014 Free Agent Power Rankings, will be an interesting player to watch over the coming weeks. Depending upon his performance and the intentions of the Cubs, he could be an extension candidate, prime mid-season trade bait, and/or a major 2014 free agent target.
- To make room in the rotation for Garza, Miles further notes, the Cubs will bump Carlos Villanueva to the bullpen. The right-hander, who is in the first half of a two-year, $10MM deal with the Cubs, has struggled since a promising start to the 2013 campaign. After allowing just five earned runs and logging 29 1/3 innings in his first four starts, Villanueva has conceded eighteen earned runs and lasted only 23 1/3 innings over his next four outings. Pitching from the pen, Villanueva is much less likely to profile as a potential trade candidate for the Cubs.
- In spite of a nice 2012 season in which he slashed .263/.299/.504 and hit 20 home runs over 398 plate appearances for the Mets, outfielder Scott Hairston says that the team never formally offered him a contract this offseason. As Adam Rubin of ESPN.com reports, Hairston felt that New York "wanted to go in a different direction," leading him to look elsewhere for a multi-year deal and regular playing time. He ultimately landed a two-year deal with the Cubs that guarantees him $5MM. Now, both player and team seem to be regretting how things turned out: the Mets outfield has been terrible, and Hairston has struggled in limited action for Chicago with a .125/.154/.354 line over just 52 plate appearances.
The Orioles are likely to seek a top-of-the-rotation starting pitcher but are completely unwilling to include top prospects Kevin Gausman or Dylan Bundy in a package, writes Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Orioles starters currently rank 23rd in ERA, and they recently lost Wei-Yin Chen to the disabled list with an oblique strain. There's no exact timetable no Chen, though Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun speculated today that he could be sidelined for as long as six weeks.
The Orioles were very interested in R.A. Dickey this offseason, according to Heyman, but even with the Blue Jays' disastrous start there's no guarantee that he would be available. Dickey can be controlled through the 2016 season, so the Blue Jays can hang onto him even if they don't contend this year. Baltimore has "little, if any" interest in mending Cubs ace Matt Garza, Heyman adds.
The Orioles went out and got some pitching help last summer by adding Joe Saunders in an August trade, but it sounds like GM Dan Duquette and his staff are eyeing bigger targets this time around. Heyman notes that before pursuing second tier options again (e.g. Ricky Nolasco, Edinson Volquez and Jason Vargas), the team is likely to exhaust its internal options.
I imagine that the Orioles will have an incredibly difficult time putting together a package for an ace-caliber pitcher without Gausman and Bundy, as the rest of their farm system lacks elite talent. Neither Baseball America or MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo listed an Orioles prospect besides those two in their respective Top 100 lists this offseason. ESPN's Keith Law (Insider required) ranked infielder Jonathan Schoop 50th overall (noting that he prefers him at third base) and lefty Eduardo Rodriguez 100th, but neither is the type of impact talent typically required to land a front-line starter.
Baseball is seeing the emergence of numerous quality young shortstops at the same time, writes ESPN's Keith Law (Insider subscription required). Jean Segura, Didi Gregorius, Andrelton Simmons, Brandon Crawford, and Starlin Castro are among the young shortstops already making an impact in the big leagues. All play on National League clubs. One of these players (Castro) has already been locked up long-term, while another (Segura) is an early extension target for his club. It will be interesting to see whether and when the rest of this deep group of middle infielders are approached about extensions. Elsewhere in the National League ...
- The Cardinals, one of baseball's most storied franchises, are perhaps its best-run present organization, writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Prioritizing continuity and foregoing excuses, the Cards are respected in the front office, field staff, and active roster. Sherman explains that the Cardinals' success in acquiring and developing players has been accompanied by a consistent philosophy of professionalism. This has allowed the team to weather significant injuries without missing a beat. As former manager Tony LaRussa describes it: "The Cardinals are winning because they have done things right for years to be in a position to be successful. Don't get me wrong, the Cardinals' talent level is really good, but their team chemistry is off the charts."
- Former Phillies' prospect Michael Bourn fully bloomed after leaving the club, but thought he might return as a free agent this past offseason. As MLB.com's Todd Zolecki writes, when Bourn's asking price looked too steep, the Phils went after another center fielder in Ben Revere. By the time Bourn's price had dropped, then, the position was filled, and Bourn signed with the Indians. From his perspective, Bourn says: "I think I might have been on their hit list. I don't know how high or what their target was, or if they were worried about what Scott [Boras] was going to do. There are a lot of teams that say they want you to be part of their organization, but you don't know if they really do. ... Yeah, I guess the Phillies were interested a little bit. But that's not how it went down."
- With long-term deals locking up cornerstone infielders Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo, the Cubs could turn their attention to spending on pitching, writes Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times. Of course, the club intends to fill two rotation spots with Jeff Samardzija and Edwin Jackson for the foreseeable future. While Wittenmyer says that extension talks have not been planned with starter Matt Garza, the soon-to-be free agent says he would be amenable. Garza, of course, has yet to appear this season. Likewise, rotation member Travis Wood says he would love to make his career in Chicago. Though he says "that's out of my hands," Wood has done everything he can this year to lock down a spot going forward. If nothing else, he is setting himself up nicely for his first season of arbitration eligibility. As manager Dale Sveum noted, and Wittenmyer documented, Wood has posted a 3.50 ERA and logged 192 2/3 innings over his last 31 starts (extending into last year).
- The Padres have several players in their minor league system whose contracts contain out clauses that are approaching, Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. Pitcher Tim Stauffer can elect free agency on June 1, while fellow righty Sean O'Sullivan's date is June 15. It was previously believed that both pitchers had opt-out dates around June 1. Other players with June 15 opt-out dates are catcher Rene Rivera and outfielder Travis Buck. Each has made a reasonable case in Triple-A that they can contribute. Stauffer has pitched to a 3.16 ERA in 42 2/3 innings. O'Sullivan's ERA is 4.19 across 43 innings, but he has put up 8.2 K/9 against 2.7 BB/9. Meanwhile, Rivera has a .375/.430/.477 line in 101 plate appearances, and Buck has hit .275/.321/.480 in 112 appearances.